Alibaba’s Jack Ma Makes First Public Appearance After October 2020

Billionaire and Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma made his first public appearance after nearly three months while delivering a speech to rural teachers in China in a live virtual meeting on Wednesday morning. He has been out of public view since late October, when he made a controversial speech at a Shanghai financial forum.

Today’s speech was part of the Rural Teachers Initiative that was established by Ma in 2015 to support teachers working in the Chinese countryside. Generally, Ma invites 100 most outstanding rural teachers to the tropical island of Hainan for a meeting and provides them cash grants to support rural education.

Speculations were rife over his whereabouts as the 56-year old Ma is still seen as the face of China’s private business community, despite him retiring from all official roles at Alibaba on his 55th birthday in 2019.

At the meeting in October, Ma had criticized China’s financial regulatory system in his speech. His critical remarks did not go down well with the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) members and regulators, who promptly summoned him.

Ma is said to have admonished China’s communist regime for making it difficult for business empires to survive in the country. He has reportedly being facing a regulatory clampdown on his business empire by Chinese authorities since then.

In the aftermath, a $37 billion initial public offering by Alibaba affiliate Ant Group was suspended in early November. The regulators also launched an antitrust probe into Alibaba in late December and restricted domestic media outlets to report on the business tycoon.

After this, Ma is said to have disappeared along with four other Chinese billionaires and have been off the radar of several Chinese run media outlets. This also raised speculations of his well-being. Though Alibaba refused to publicly reveal his location, they said he was well intact and physically sound.

Many speculated that Ma was arrested under China’s Secret Detentions Act formed in 2013. Some said it was a ‘design’ by the CCP for presenting dissenting views against the government publicly.

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