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Alibaba's use of 'pig' for new web name angers Muslims

By Wang Xiaodong | China Daily | Updated: 2016-11-02 06:50

Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba changed the name of its travel website to cater to the younger generation, its primary customer group, the company announced on Tuesday.

The group announced last week that it was rebranding its travel portal, changing the name of the website from Alitrip.com to Fliggy.com. The new name is feizhu, or "flying pig" in Chinese. The company also introduced a cartoon-like image of a pig as its new logo.

"A key goal of the rebranding is to appeal to a younger demographic that accounts for more than 80 percent of our customer base," Alibaba said in a statement.

Alibaba's use of 'pig' for new web name angers Muslims

About 80 percent of the users of Fliggy.com are born after 1985, and the company will aim to provide services for the group in the future, Li Shaohua, CEO of Fliggy.com, told National Business Daily on Tuesday. The new name is more identifiable and easier to remember, the report said.

The decision sparked heated discussions in the past few days, especially among Muslims, who consider pigs unclean.

Adili Maimaititure, a Uyghur food industry entrepreneur in Changsha, Hunan province, said on Friday on Sina Weibo that he used to support Alitrip, as it makes booking train or air tickets for people of ethnic groups more convenient, but he will choose to delete the app as the name has been changed to feizhu. He said pigs are taboo for Muslims, and Alibaba should have considered this before changing the name. He said he believes that other Muslims would also take the same action.

Peng Gaocheng, a retired ethnic studies expert in Shanghai, said Maimaititure's concern is reasonable. "I think Alibaba should be more cautious about changing its name in case some Muslims feel offended," Peng told Sixth Tone, an English website owned by ThePaper.cn.

Alibaba said in its statement: "We embrace diversity, and respect all creeds and religions. The name change is meant to reflect the demographic's aspirations to pursue dreams, sit back and enjoy life."

A netizen named Han Dongyan said on Sina Weibo, "Alibaba has the right to change a name, and it is wrong to call on others to boycott it just because of a symbol."

Later, Maimaititure said on Sina Weibo that he apologized for his "improper expression" over the name change.

Feizhu is just a name and it has no substantial meaning," another netizen said. "It is nonsense to boycott the company just for changing its name."

Ma Si contributed to this story.

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