(Yicai Global) Dec. 14 -- Chinese e-commerce stalwart Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. [NYSE:BABA] may be pumping millions into its delivery drones, but its flying couriers pale in comparison to the swarms of Chinese worker ants which it holds almost prisoner on a daily basis.
Taobao, one of its online shopping platforms, is often lauded in the news for its greatness, but I, as a Chinese journalist, think it's just a waste of time.
I have seen so many Chinese people spend a dozen hours or more on Taobao in a single day. Whether they're at work, even on the toilet, they're window shopping online. Could you imagine a husband or wife like this, could you tolerate it?
This is just one of the smaller problems. A bigger peeve I have with Taobao is that you can't see real stores. Your understanding of a shop is merely what you read from reviews, which are often fake. This is an actual business in China -- people charge money to write fake reviews online. This has led to substantial growth in the price of fake goods, which is a real issue.
Another problem is how the platform has killed many brick-and-mortar neighborhood stores. UK-based Marks and Spencer Plc [LSE:MKS] has closed all of its China stores, and domestic supermarkets are feeling the heat too. It takes a lot more to run a real store than it does to operate an online shop -- you need to pay rent, utilities, wages… the list goes on. In-store shopping is an enjoyable experience, but mobile browsing just drains this happiness away.
And on the topic of draining, it's bleeding people's wallets dry too. Alibaba's mobile payment tool, Alipay, lets you save all your money within the Ali umbrella so that, you guessed it, you can spend it all online! It uses its Big Data to track what you browse and what you buy, and then puts those things right on your screen with targeted ads. It will keep on taking until there's nothing left.
Then once there's nothing left… Alibaba's financial arm, Ant Financial Services Group, will swoop in to offer micro loans through its Jie Ba platform. The company really is taking over people's lives, we're all becoming slaves to the Alibaba system.
All this control, this money, this information… Jack Ma might call it Big Data, but if you ask me, he's just China's 'Big Brother,' and he's watching your every move.
Zhou Xin is the chief executive and editor-in-chief of Yicai Global.