Jack Ma returns to China in a sign of political easing on Alibaba

Alibaba founder Jack Ma has returned to mainland China for a rare public visit that comes as Beijing tries to restore confidence in the business class following a years-long crackdown on the public sector. turmeric.

Ma traveled to his hometown of Hangzhou, where alibaba was headquartered, to visit the Alibaba-sponsored Yungu school, according to the school, which mainly educates the children of Alibaba employees.

In an article posted on its WeChat account on Monday, the school cited Mom talk about the challenges that artificial intelligence poses to education. The former English teacher and education philanthropist discussed the need for education reform if children are to compete with artificial intelligence in the future.

Beijing will hope the publicity surrounding Ma’s rare trip to mainland China can bolster confidence among businessmen following the end of both a harsh regulatory crackdown and Covid-free restrictions. .

“For business, what matters is whether Ma is muted. Being in China is one thing, but can we hear from him again, and can he talk about anything other than rural education and agriculture?” Duncan Clark, founder of Beijing-based consulting firm BDA and author of Alibaba: The house that Jack Ma built.

The detained China Renaissance founder Bao Fan in recent weeks has caused anxiety throughout the business world as Beijing tries to boost investment in the country.

Ma was once a celebrity in China, giving free interviews to the media and taking to the stage in flashy dresses and performing rock music at corporate gala dinners.

Just days before Ant Financial’s $37 billion initial public offering in November 2020, Ma delivered a speech in which he attacked banks. and China’s financial supervisory authority. The speech forced President Xi Jinping to abandon Ant’s listing and sparked a crackdown on the country’s biggest tech corporations.

Since then, Ma has shied away from media attention and increasingly spends time outside of China.

Financial Times reported that Ma lived in Tokyo for nearly six months in November, making frequent trips to the United States and Israel. Ma has also spent time in Hong Kong in recent months playing golf, according to people familiar with his activities.

Government officials in Zhejiang province, the home of Hangzhou, have stepped up their charm offensive with Alibaba, sending top local Communist Party officials to the company’s headquarters and signing a strategic cooperation agreement.

Ma’s return to mainland China comes as Ant Financial’s future remains unclear. billionaire relinquish control of Ant Group in January, significantly reducing his stake in the company. A change in control could pave the way for a listing in Hong Kong or Shanghai.

Additional reporting by Qianer Liu in Hong Kong


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