Beijing: Mystery surrounds the whereabouts of Alibaba founder and billionaire Jack Ma amid an ongoing conflict with the Chinese government.
According to a report by UK daily The Telegraph, the billionaire has not made a public appearance in over two months. He even failed to appear for the final episode of his own talent show in November 2020.
Ma was supposed to appear as a judge in the final episode of the talent show, ‘Africa’s Business Heroes’, but failed to turn up for it. The 56-year-old tycoon was replaced by an Alibaba executive in the show, which gave budding African entrepreneurs the chance to compete for a prize of $1.5 million. Even Ma’s photos were taken off the show’s website and he was left out of a promotional video.
However, an Alibaba spokesperson told the Financial Times that Ma could not be part of the finale judge panel in the show due to a “schedule conflict”.
Interestingly, the Chinese government had stopped an IPO of Ma’s Ant Group after the billionaire had criticized China’s financial regulators and state-owned banks in October.
He criticized the regulators for “stifling innovation” and compared global banking rules to an “old man’s club”. Ma also criticized China for lacking a solid financial ecosystem and said Chinese banks are like “pawn shops”.
Since then, Chinese officials have been turning the heat against him.