Two Months after Chinese billionaire and Alibaba founder, Jack Ma, mysteriously disappeared from a talent show named, ‘Africa’s Business Heroes’, it has now been reported that he is being supervised at an undisclosed location.
The Chinese mouthpiece, People’s Daily, reported that Jack Ma has been ’embracing supervision’ at an unknown location. However, Duncan Clark, the chairman of BDA China, said that he does not believe that Jack Ma was under custody. He emphasised, “I think he’s been told to lay low. This is a pretty unique situation, more linked to the sheer scale of Ant Group (owned by Jack Ma) and the sensitivities over financial regulation.” Earlier, Bloomberg had reported that the business tycoon was told by the Chinese regime to not leave the country.
The disappearance of the business tycoon followed after he made critical remarks about China’s current banking system, the financial regulatory structure of the Communist-ruled country and how it was unsuitable for fintech companies such as Ant group. He went on a tirade against bank officials and even labelled them as individuals with ‘pawnshop mentality’.
It is interesting to note that Jack Ma is not the first high-profile man to have disappeared out of the blue. Reportedly, China legalised secret detentions back in 2013. As such, several well-known people from various walks of life including actress Fan Bingbing, ex-Interpol chief Meng Hongwei and gene-editing scientist He Jiankui were made to disappear. All of them however mysteriously reappeared after some time.
Chinese mouthpiece slams ‘Vampire’ Jack Ma
Chinese mouthpeice, People’s Daily, earlier said in November that there would be no ‘Jack Ma era.’ It said, “Ma Yun is savvy, but without the support of national policies, Ali will not be able to become a trillion business empire, and Ma Yun cannot have the influence and popularity today.”
People’s Daily slammed the internationally acclaimed entrepreneur for being ‘ungrateful’ and critical of the policies of the Chinese regime. It emphasised, “If you disregard your food and make use of the policy advantages given by the state to do business that is not conducive to economic development and not beneficial to the people’s lives, you will only end up reaping the consequences.”
NeTease commented that Jack Ma lost his chances of becoming the world’s richest man after the listing of Ant Group in IPO was suspended. It said, “Jack Ma, who ‘dislikes money’, not only lost the best chance of becoming the world’s richest man, but even the reputation he had accumulated over many years collapsed almost overnight, and he was no longer a kind ‘Father Horse’. Instead, he became the evil ‘vampire’ in people’s hearts.”
Souring relationship of Jack Ma with the Chinese regime
The 56-year-old Jack Ma was once a poster boy for the communist regime, however, the relationship turned sour after he became more vocal against Chinese leadership. Ma is said to have made around £35billion from creating Alibaba, the Asian version of Amazon.
Despite being one of China’s most successful businessmen, Ma has been clashing with the regime over his call for more of an open and market-driven economy. The English teacher turned business magnate is viewed as a rock star in the country that has pushed the Chinese leadership to be fearful about the billionaire’s influence.
China, under President Xi Jinping, has been ruthless against its critics and has unleashed a drive to arrest all the dissidents of the regime. In March a property tycoon had disappeared after he called President Xi Jinping a ‘clown’ for his handling of the coronavirus crisis. Ren Zhiqiang a billionaire financier, was sentenced to 18 years in prison after he ‘voluntarily and truthfully confessed’ to various crimes of corruption.
Similarly, Xian Jianhua, a billionaire financier, was snatched from a Hong Kong hotel in 2017 and taken to the mainland.