Wednesday 20th January 2021
Billionaire gives short speech
Signs of life make Jack Ma even richer
Last fall, one of the richest men in China disappears. Now Alibaba founder Jack Ma can be seen in a short video. It remains unclear where the billionaire is – but the relief is already great on the stock exchange. The entrepreneur also benefits from this.
After more than two months of radio silence, the Chinese billionaire Jack Ma is back: In a video broadcast on the Internet, the Alibaba founder can be seen addressing teachers at an event held by his charity. Relief is great on the stock market, and Alibaba's share price skyrockets in Hong Kong. And Ma, who owns a stake in Alibaba, is around $ 900 million richer in one fell swoop, according to Bloomberg.
According to the "Billionaire Index", Ma weighs almost 53 billion dollars and ranks 25th among the world's richest people. Ma is the most famous entrepreneur in China and served as a symbol for the economic rise of the People's Republic. But since last autumn he has been in trouble with the communist leadership under President Xi Jinping.
Ma had disappeared from the scene after publicly criticizing his country's financial regulators in October. He called the financial system outdated and compared it to traditional Chinese pawn shops. As a result, Ma was summoned by the authorities. A few days later, regulators canceled the IPO of Ant, the financial arm of online giant Alibaba, at short notice. It should have been the biggest IPO in the world. Then China’s market regulator opened an investigation into possible "monopoly practices" against Alibaba.
Government curbs the power of billionaires
The background to the action against Alibaba and Ant are efforts by the country’s leadership to curb the growing influence of private Chinese tech companies and their founders on the economy of the People’s Republic – President Xi sees them as jeopardizing both financial and political stability.
Meanwhile, it remains unclear where Ma is. In the past, numerous Chinese billionaires had temporarily disappeared. The whereabouts of some are still unclear – others have been tried and usually sentenced to prison terms for corruption. Still others suddenly reappeared with no public explanation for their disappearance. They all came into conflict with the Communist Party.
It is quite likely that Ma will be spared such a fate. In the 50-second video, he praised the government's efforts to reduce poverty and promised further efforts to help teachers in rural areas. "My colleagues and I are more determined than ever to devote ourselves to education and the common good," he said. China has "entered a new phase of development" and is moving towards general prosperity. The appearance should have been entirely in the spirit of the Communist Party.