Chinese tycoon and famed Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma has resurfaced after a three-month absence from public view which fuelled speculation over his fate and whereabouts. Beijing has been applying incredible pressure against his business empire, even investigating Alibaba for monopolistic practices.
Sources told Bloomberg that Ma addressed teachers via livestream during an event that he hosts annually. A video of the event was posted online, and in it, Ma indicated that he would dedicate more of his time to philanthropy. His Ant Group, the financial affiliate of Alibaba, confirmed the authenticity of the video.
“Recently, my colleagues and I have been studying and thinking. We made a firmer resolution to devote ourselves to education philanthropy,” said Ma in the video. “Working hard for rural revitalisation and common prosperity is the responsibility for our generation of businessmen.”
Ma, who used to be an English teacher and founder of #Alibaba, also gives wishes to village teachers via a video on Wednesday, saying usually the activity is held in Sanya in southern Hainan but this year, due to #Covid19 it has to be done via video conference. pic.twitter.com/yfi7oPB5Sb
— Qingqing_Chen (@qingqingparis) January 20, 2021
Ma’s troubles began in late October last year when he made critical remarks against Chinese government regulators at a prominent summit. Beijing then scuttled Ant’s US$35 billion (~RM141.5 billion) IPO, and followed up with a monopoly probe into Alibaba. According to Bloomberg, Citi Private Bank’s Lab for Family Offices said a “large number” of the bank’s ultra-wealthy clients cut or pulled their holdings in Alibaba after the probe was initiated.
Ma’s silence throughout the events had been deafening. He failed to appear in the final 2020 episode of his own talent show, Africa’s Business Heroes. His picture was even scrubbed from the judging website. It remains to be seen whether his recent reappearance is a one-off event, or shows he’s ready to return to the public limelight.