Billionaire Jack Ma made his first public appearance in months on Wednesday (January 20), putting to rest speculations about his well-being after he sparred with the Chinese authorities over increased scrutiny of his ever-expanding business empire.
Jack Ma, the founder of Alibaba and Ant Group, spoke to teachers via livestream on Wednesday during an annual event he hosts to recognise rural educators. During his brief talk, Jack Ma said that, henceforth, he’ll spend more time on philanthropy. However, he refrained from speaking about his run-in with the Chinese authorities.
The video, whose authenticity was confirmed by Ant Group, does not mention where Ma is at present. The public appearance, however, is definitely an answer to persistent rumours about his fate while Beijing continues to investigate Ma’s Ant Group Co and Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.
The Chinese billionaire was missing from public glare since November, when Chinese regulators blocked Ant’s $35 billion IPO, brought the two groups under tough financial control, sought an overhaul of Ant Group and initiated antitrust probe into Alibaba’s functioning.
“Recently, my colleagues and I have been studying and thinking. We made a firmer resolution to devote ourselves to education philanthropy,” Ma said in the video. “Working hard for rural revitalisation and common prosperity is the responsibility for our generation of businessmen.”
The scrutiny of Jack Ma’s corporate conglomerate hints at tightening regulations on GenX Chinese tech companies, which, the Communist authorities believe, are wielding too much control over China. Beijing seems to have lost patience with technology majors, which are looked at as a potential danger to President Xi Jinping’s monopolistic empire.
It is not yet known if the ties between Jack Ma and the Chinese Communist regime have improved since. In December, the Xi Jinping government had asked Ma to not leave the country.