Alibaba Group President Michael Evans said in a statement that the company is "very disappointed" with the U.S. trade representative's office's decision to include Taobao.com on its 'notorious markets' list.
The U.S. trade representative (USTR) on Wednesday returned China's top e-commerce platform Taobao.com to its blacklist of "notorious marketplaces" known for sale of counterfeit goods and violations of intellectual property rights (IPR).
"In 2016 alone, we proactively removed more than double the number of infringing product listings than in 2015. It is therefore unreasonable for the USTR to have concluded that Alibaba is less effective in anti-counterfeiting than when it reviewed our efforts in 2015 and when it removed us from its list four years ago," Evans said.
He said, "the USTR's decision leads us to question whether the USTR acted based on the actual facts or was influenced by the current political climate."
Alibaba's CEO Zhang Yong also showed his disappointment and said trade protectionism around the world has never been appeased. Zhang said, "We will protect intellectual property and won't allow Taobao to become a 'notorious market'."
Inclusion on the blacklist does not carry any direct penalties, but it may affect Alibaba's reputation on the global market, said Cao Lei, director of the China Online Commerce Research Center.
Taobao was put on the USTR blacklist in 2011 but removed in 2012 after it addressed concerns of IPR holders and committed to cut the number of pirated and counterfeit goods on its website.
Alibaba closed 180,000 shops at Taobao.com from September 2015 to August 2016.
In addition to Taobao.com, three other online markets and six brick and mortar markets in China, including Beijing's renowned Silk Street Market, were included on the new "notorious markets" list.