What is your opinion on the report of Baidu 's Robin Li being restrcited to leave China and Baidu 's later statment to deny?
The travel ban looks like a warning from Beijing, and Baidu’s official counter-statement seems to aim at reassuring foreign investors.
Not sure what exactly happened, but the news reported by Bowen Press [1 ] (a Taiwanese website I know nothing about) state that the restrictive order came from the Ministry of Public Security. Li’s travel ban should be is part of the anti-corruption investigation that Baidu has been undertaking for more than a year, after a scandal where a sick patient died using fake treatment he found on Baidu [2 ].
This investigation and the fight against “fake news” ordered by Beijing has already cost the company millions in ads, a very bad reputation and most of there executives. Robin Li has to hire lots of new people, bringing back even its own wife [3 ]. Beijing is not only asking for financial results, but also for deeper tights and control over content and executives, which is a great burden for Baidu in terms of operational cost and international image.
Baidu reported its fourth-quarter earnings today and it does not look good : more revenues, less profit, no clear path towards change. Of course, Wall Street is very unhappy about it [4 ].
So my speculative answer will be that right now Robin Li is trying very hard to please its US investors, and Beijing does not like to be put in second position by its national champion.
Both ways, I guess Li is not sleeping super well those days.
This text was originally published in quora.