AliExpress logo displayed on a phone screen and AliExpress website displayed on a laptop screen. Photo taken in January 2022.
The US named on Thursday Alibaba's AliExpress and Tencent's WeChat (not pictured) as ecommerce platforms that abet counterfeiting.akub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images
  • The US has added China's WeChat and AliExpress to its list of marketplaces reputed to sell fake goods.
  • The aim is to raise awareness of counterfeit goods and how they hurt trade and workers.
  • China's Pinduoduo and Taobao remain on the list.

Shopping platforms run by China tech giants Alibaba and Tencent have wound up on an annual US government watchlist for fake goods and copyright piracy.

Alibaba's AliExpress, an ecommerce platform where China-based merchants can sell to foreign buyers, and Tencent's WeChat, one of the world's largest instant messaging services, "reportedly facilitate substantial trademark counterfeiting", the Office of the United States Trade Representative said Thursday.

It also said China was the "top country of origin for counterfeit goods" seized by customs and border guards, and for goods made by forced labor. "Existing data shows a correlation between the use of forced labor and child labor in the global production of certain products and the types of products that are most commonly counterfeited," the report stated.

The findings were part of the USTR's Review of Notorious Markets for Counterfeiting and Piracy annual report. The publication name and shames 42 online and 35 physical markets that support or are involved in counterfeiting or content piracy, said the USTR.

The US and China have the world's biggest bilateral trade relationship, but that has come under strain in recent years. The Trump administration had looked to Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974 to impose tariffs on Chinese imports amounting to hundreds of billions of dollars. President Biden's administration has also accused China of "serious harm" to workers over its trade policies.

The USTR said Alibaba does have some of the better checks and balances on fake goods versus its peers, but said rights holders had seen a big increase in the number of copycat items sold on AliExpress.

WeChat, meanwhile, has an integrated ecommerce function with poor checks on sellers, the USTR said, which makes it easy to trade counterfeit products.

A Tencent spokesperson said in response to Insider that it "strongly disagrees" with the USTR's decision and is "committed to working collaboratively to resolve this matter." The spokesperson added that protection of intellectual-property rights is key to Tencent's business.  

Alibaba did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.

In Thursday's report, the USTR also named other Chinese platforms such as Taobao, another Alibaba's shopping portal; Baidu Wangpan, a cloud service from Baidu that it said supports content piracy; and Pinduoduo, an e-commerce app. Indonesian online marketplaces Bukalapak and Tokopedia, Singapore-based ecommerce site Shopee and Vietnamese-language streaming site Phimmoi were also listed.

Got a tip? Contact the reporter, Weilun Soon, on [email protected].

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