Following an absence from public view in the past three years, Jack Ma, co-founder of Alibaba group and Chinese billionaire, has been seen in Hong Kong. Two sources revealed to Reuters that jack Ma had been meeting with a few business associates over the past week. Reports of his presence in the city also appeared in The Standard earlier this month – October 1st specifically.
After criticizing China’s financial regulators in 2020, the 58-year-old has kept a low profile.
Ma has been the highest profile Chinese tech entrepreneur to vanish during a crackdown by Beijing. The BBC reported that the billionaire has kept a low profile and only made three public appearances since his critical speech in Shanghai last October. He is now believed to have returned to Hong Kong, where he owns at least one luxurious property, though this visit was not possible until recently due to the clampdown on his empire. Alibaba, under jack Ma’s leadership, has tried to amend its relationship with authorities by investing in patriotic films and donating money towards Xi Jinping’s “common prosperity” initiative – yet Beijing still imposed a large fine upon them for breaking monopoly laws as well as banning Ant Group’s share buyback programme and suspending their incredibly hyped Initial Public Offering (IPO).
According to the South China Morning Post, he recently returned to China after more than a year abroad.
He also briefly visited Art Basel, an international art fair, during a stopover in Hong Kong, according to the Alibaba-owned newspaper.
Ma has been travelling to various countries to learn agricultural technology, but the article did not mention why he has disappeared from public view.
Alibaba’s headquarters is in Hangzhou, where Ma met staff and toured classrooms at the Yungu School.
According to the school’s social media page, he discussed artificial intelligence’s potential impact on education.
We should use artificial intelligence to solve problems instead of being controlled by it, he said, referring to ChatGPT and similar technologies.
Ma, once the richest man in China, gave up control of Ant Group in January.
According to BBC, some commentators saw it as evidence that he had fallen foul of the Chinese Communist Party due to his outspokenness and power.