Alibaba has vowed to continue cooperating with global brands on stamping out fake products, despite being turfed out of the International Anti-Counterfeiting Coalition's (IACC) just weeks after joining.
The U.S.-based IACC announced on Friday that it would suspend Alibaba's membership, after several IACC member companies - including Michael Kors, Gucci America and Tiffany - quit the group in protest at Alibaba's inclusion.
On April 13, Alibaba had become the first internet retailer to join the group under a new membership category designed for intermediaries
But IACC members accused the Chinese e-commerce giant of profiting by allowing fake goods to be sold on its platforms, with the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) citing a letter of protest from Michael Kors' general counsel Lee Sporn to the IACC in which he wrote that allowing Alibaba into the IACC provided "cover to our most dangerous and damaging adversary."
Alibaba said on Sunday that the IACC's decision to suspend its membership "will not affect the existing relationship nor the projects that both sides are working on together."
"We believe that Alibaba, as the world's largest e-commerce platform, plays an important role in tackling and solving counterfeiting issues across the globe," Alibaba said in a statement to China National Radio. "Alibaba will discuss and communicate more thoroughly with more brands in order to push forward the course of international anti-counterfeiting," it added.
According to the IACC website, Alibaba founder and executive chairman Jack Ma is due to speak at its Spring Conference, due to run from May 18-20.
Chinese media, however, did not treat the ousting with the same aplomb, calling it "embarrassing" and "shameful", and describing the e-commerce giant as having been "brutally swept out the door" and "slapped round the face."
On social media, the news Aliababa had been dropped by the IACC went viral. Some patriotic netizens took the exclusion personally, with one called such as Eastern Bear saying, "This is not only a shame of Alibaba, it is a shame of this country."
But most posters supported the IACC's position and recalled their own experiences of being sold fake products on the Alibaba's Taobao platform, and even on Tmall - Alibaba's higher-end and supposedly safer marketplace on which many international brands operate virtual stores.
"Alibaba isn't innocent, there's no injustice here," said a Weibo user called Zhhtyq. Another user named Happy Heaven Earth and Ocean said, "Alibaba should not have become a public platform for selling fakes. Now that fakes are found on Taobao, Alibaba should take responsibility and the punishment."