Alibaba Co-founder Jack Ma suspected missing after criticising Xi Jinping government
Chinese tech billionaire and Alibaba Co-founder Jack Ma has reportedly not been seen in public for over two months after he came in conflict with President Xi Jinping-led Central Communist Party government.
According to sources, the former Executive Chairman of Alibaba Group also failed to appear as scheduled in the final episode of his own talent show — Africa’s Business Heroes, which provides budding African entrepreneurs with a chance to compete for a slice of $1.5 million.
Jack Ma was later replaced by an Alibaba executive in the November finale, and his picture was also taken off the website.
Earlier in October, Jack Ma criticised the country's 'pawnshop' financial regulators and state-owned banks in an incendiary speech in Shanghai. He called for reform of a system that 'stifled business innovation' and likened global banking regulations to an 'old people's club.'
The speech was viewed as an attack on the authority of the Communist Party and led to its extraordinary clampdown on his business activities.
Little over a week later, Ant Group’s IPO (valued at a record-setting $37 billion or AU $48 billion), which had already received the green light from China’s securities watchdog, was suspended. Moreover, the Shanghai Stock Exchange also noted that Ant had reported "significant issues such as the changes in financial technology regulatory environment.”
Ant Group is an affiliate of the Alibaba Group and operates China's largest digital payment platform Alipay.
Earlier in March, Jack Ma had announced the donation of essential medical supplies, including face masks and COVID-19 test kits, to India and six other nations to help combat the spread of the novel coronavirus.
"Collectively, these seven countries will receive a total of 1.7 million face masks, 1,65,000 test kits, as well as protective clothing and medical equipment, such as ventilators and forehead thermometers," Alibaba and Ant Group had said in a statement.
Besides India, the medical supplies will be donated to Azerbaijan, Bhutan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, and Vietnam, it had noted.
In fact, in June 2013, the Alibaba co-founder was dethroned by Tencent CEO Pony Ma as China's richest person.