The public status of Jack Ma, co-founder and former CEO of Alibaba Group and one of the world’s wealthiest people has suddenly changed in China after he gave a speech in October criticizing the CCP’s regulatory practices and state owned banks.
Since he delivered the speech until today, the Chinese tech billionaire who was never shy of public appearances and even had his own reality TV show has now to all effects and purposes disappeared from the scene, reports are saying.
His address during an event in Shanghai in October was critical of China’s system that he said stood in the way of innovation, while he is known as a proponent of a more open and market driven economy. But it seems his most recent comments were the last drop seen as criticism of the system and the ruling Communist Party itself, that led to a series of events suggesting Ma and his business are being ruthlessly punished by Beijing for stepping out of line.
First, Ma’s attempt to launch a $37 billion IPO for his fintech Ant Group was put on hold on President Xi Jinping’s orders, the Wall Street Journal said in November.
Next, Alibaba Group Holding came under antitrust monopoly scrutiny in late December, Bloomberg said. The investigation’s effect on Alibaba’s shares was devastating, causing them to lose a quarter of their value and push Ma back in the third place on the list of China’s wealthiest people.
In addition to all this, Ma has “gone missing” from public life, including from the Africa’s Business Heroes TV show where he was on the panel of judges. Despite the fact Ma previously shared on Twitter he was eager to participate in the show’s final, his photo is no longer featured on the page of the competition’s judging panel, while an Alibaba spokesperson told the Financial Times that a “scheduling conflict” was the reason for Ma’s absence.