Hangzhou-based e-commerce giant Alibaba received a visit from newly-appointed Zhejiang province party chief Yi Lianhong on Dec. 18 in a move widely interpreted as a public pledge of support from authorities for the country’s tech sector. Yi, who has only been in his post for a couple of weeks, encouraged Alibaba to play a significant role in promoting development, international competition, and benefiting society, local media outlet China Star Market reported on Sunday. The visit to one of China’s most influential tech firms was seen as a shift in attitude from Chinese authorities following the government’s annual Central Economic Work Conference in Beijing last week, after a year in which major tech firms in the country have been hit by investigations and new regulations. [China Star Market, in Chinese]