Monday, January 4, 2021


The Chinese tech billionaire behind Asia's version of Amazon has reportedly not been seen in public for more than two months after falling foul of President Xi Jinping.

Jack Ma, one of China's most successful and outspoken tycoons, criticised the country's 'pawnshop' financial regulators and state-owned banks in an incendiary speech in Shanghai in October.

He called for reform of a system that 'stifled business innovation' and likened global banking regulations to an 'old people's club'.

The speech angered the Chinese government, which viewed Ma's criticisms as an attack on the authority of the Communist Party, and led to its extraordinary clampdown on Ma's business activities.

In November, officials in Beijing 'dressed down' Ma and suspended the blockbuster $37billion initial public offering of his Ant Group on the direct order of President Xi, the Wall Street Journal reports.

They then advised Ma to remain in China before launching an anti-monopoly investigation into Ma's Alibaba Group Holding on Christmas Eve, according to Bloomberg. Beijing also ordered Ma's financial tech company Ant Group to scale back its operations.

Ma then mysteriously disappeared from his Dragons' Den-style TV show Africa's Business Heroes just before the November final, while his photo was scrubbed from the show's judging panel webpage.

A spokesperson for Alibaba told the Financial Times that Ma could no longer be part of the judging panel 'due to a schedule conflict'.

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