After years of absence from the Chinese mainland, Jack Ma, co-founder of the Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. recently made a public appearance. His disappearance and reappearance after two and a half years were quite surprising.
On Monday, Ma visited a private school in his hometown Hangzhou, as reflected by a post on the school’s WeChat account. The South China Morning Post, which is controlled by Alibaba, also confirmed the news. After years abroad, he is back home and it has been seen as an indication that private businesses are taking a more serious tone. His return marks the conclusion of his overseas stay.
According to Reuters, his return to China could decrease the worries of its private sector which had gone through a strict two-year period of regulations. This could help alleviate the pressure businesses have been facing during this time.
Since late 2020, the billionaire has kept away from the public eye, shortly after creating a stir with his hard-hitting remarks about regulators in an October address. In November 2020, the much-anticipated $34.5 billion Ant Group Co. Ltd. IPO was suddenly blocked by regulators right before its launch. Because of this, Jack Ma, the founder of Alibaba who held controlling rights in Ant, then relinquished his ownership stake in the company.
Ma’s trip abroad was a symbol of the fortunes of China’s private sector being reversed after his empire and the technology industry was hit by Beijing’s regulatory clampdown.
In 2020, Ma’s speech criticising Chinese regulations sparked an uproar and led to the government taking a closer look at his activities. This led to Ma distancing himself from public life as a result of the greater scrutiny. At the end of 2021, he departed from China and was photographed in Japan, Spain, Australia and Thailand.