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Alibaba CEO Jack Ma appears in video speech after months out of public view

Washington Examiner logo Washington Examiner 1/20/2021 Tyler Van Dyke
Jack Ma wearing a suit and tie © Provided by Washington Examiner

Chinese billionaire Jack Ma made a public address for the first time in nearly three months, quelling speculation that the tech CEO disappeared after making statements that were critical of the Chinese Communist Party.

In a video speech delivered to 100 rural Chinese workers on Wednesday, Ma said he had been "learning and thinking" about how tech entrepreneurs could better serve China's "rural revitalization and common prosperity," according to a translation in the South China Morning Post.

Ma, who stepped down as Alibaba's chairman in October to dedicate himself to philanthropy, said in his speech that he was committed to supporting education and hoped to see the teachers in person in the future.

The Jack Ma Foundation confirmed that the founder of Alibaba and the Ant Group participated in this year's Rural Teacher Initiative, which was organized by Ma's private foundation.

Asia Corporate Governance Association Secretary-General Jamie Allen said Alibaba "clearly wants to send a message that he's OK and not in detention" with Ma's video speech.

Ma, whose net worth is estimated at nearly $50 billion and is among those most influential men in China, was last seen in public at the Bund Global Financial Summit in Shanghai on Oct. 24. At the event, he hailed the upcoming Ant Group IPO as "the largest [listing] in human history."

Ma also used the speech to raise concerns with China's economic policies and system of banking, saying Chinese regulators relied on a "pawnshop mentality," according to a transcript of his speech, and said the current system presented "a serious problem in China and has affected a lot of entrepreneurs."

Following Ma's remarks, China's securities watchdog canceled Ant Group's $37 billion IPO, and authorities summoned Ma for questioning, according to Time magazine. In December, Ant Group was forced to restructure its operations in order for its IPO to be approved, a move that cost the company billions from its anticipated valuation.

The billionaire entrepreneur chose to keep a "low profile" after the speech, according to sources who spoke to the Wall Street Journal, adding that throughout his time out of the public view he remained "in contact with close friends and leaders at Ant and Alibaba."

Tags: News, China, Wealth, Censorship, Business, Technology, Missing Person

Original Author: Tyler Van Dyke

Original Location: Alibaba CEO Jack Ma appears in video speech after months out of public view


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