In early January, Alibaba founder Jack Ma was found missing from public action for more than two months.
Jack Ma. (Reuters)
Chinese billionaire and Alibaba founder Jack Ma has ‘resurfaced’ after prolonged absence from the public sphere, Bloomberg reported.
“Ma was spotted in public view addressing rural teachers in a video conference, months after being untraceable, the news agency reported.
In early January, Ma was found missing from public action for more than two months. Reactions worldwide were quick as Ma was reported to have miffed the Chinese government with his remarks during a speech in Shanghai on October 24 where he criticised the country’s regulations for stifling innovation.
Chinese banks, he said, operated with a “pawnshop” mentality.
Several senior financial regulatory officials were furious at Ma’s criticism, two sources had told Reuters earlier, with one source characterising the speech as a “punch in their faces”.
The following month, Chinese officials reprimanded Ma and suspended Ant Group’s planned blockbuster $ 37-billion initial public offering (IPO).
State regulators also started compiling reports including one on how Ant had used digital financial products like Huabei, a virtual credit card service, to encourage poor and young people to build up debt, reports said.
The general office of the State Council reportedly compiled a report on public sentiment about Ma’s speech and submitted it to senior leaders including President Xi Jinping.
A CNBC report on January 5 however said Ma is not “missing” but was “laying low”.
“He may not have shown up, but he’s not missing,” CNBC anchor David Faber reported.
“He is very likely in Hangzhou, where the headquarters of Alibaba is. He is being less visible purposefully. And you can expect that that will continue to be the case for some time. He ran afoul of the government of the PRC (People’s Republic of China). He has pushed on that line a number of times in the past and been okay,” Faber said.