Chinese billionaire Jack Ma resurfaces after months of speculations

By Rahul Vaimal, Associate Editor
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Jack Ma, the co-founder of China's Alibaba and Ant Group

Chinese business magnate Jack Ma has resurfaced after remaining out of public view for months.

His appearance kills intense speculation about the condition of the most recognizable entrepreneur from China who is struggling with increasing scrutiny over his internet empire.

Jack Ma, who is the co-founder of multinational tech company Alibaba and financial firm Ant, was not seen since October 2020. Now, he reportedly addressed teachers via livestream during an annual event he hosts to recognize the achievements of rural educators. His appearance, first reported in a local blog, was confirmed by people familiar with the matter.

In a video of the event shared online, Mr. Ma speaks about his idea of spending more time on philanthropy. The authenticity of the video was confirmed by Ant Group later. Despite the online re-emergence, the whereabouts of Jack Ma are still under the wraps. In the video, he does not mention his recent tiffs with the Chinese government that pushed him into hiding for the last couple of months.

The executive had stayed out of public view since Chinese regulators halted Ant Group’s $35 billion initial public offering (IPO), tightened fintech regulations, then ordered an overhaul of Ant and launched a separate anti-trust probe into Alibaba, all in a span of days.

The assault on Mr. Ma’s trillion-dollar corporate empire gives a better picture of the broader campaign to control a generation of Chinese tech giants that the Chinese government now view as having too much control over the world’s second largest economy. The string of actions against Mr. Ma’s twin companies show how China has lost patience with the outsize power of its technology giants, perceived now as a threat to the political and financial stability that the country’s President Xi Jinping values the most.

The attack against Mr. Ma had grabbed global headlines. Though his standing with Beijing remains unclear, the recent video is proof enough of his well being for now.