Chinese tech billionaire Jack Ma disappears from own reality show as Beijing launches probe into ‘monopoly’
- Chinese tech billionaire Jack Ma disappeared from his own reality TV show
- It comes as Alibaba Group at center of anti-monopoly investigation
- Market regulator said it is reviewing Alibaba’s policy of ‘choosing one of the two’
Mystery surrounds the fate of China’s richest man after criticizing the regime.
Jack Ma has disappeared from his own talent TV show and there has been no sign of him since the end of October.
The 56-year-old is said to have made around £ 35bn from the creation of Alibaba, the Asian version of Amazon, and was the poster boy for the Communist regime.
Chinese tech billionaire Jack Ma has disappeared from his own reality TV show as Beijing launches an investigation into its alleged monopoly. My photo above in a file image
But Chinese leaders appeared to turn on him after he criticized regulators and state-owned banks at a fintech conference in October.
His profile originated from the judges ‘webpage of Africa’s Business Heroes – a Dragons’ Den-style TV show for budding entrepreneurs. The final went without him and he is also missing from the promotional videos.
Weeks before the final in November, Mr Ma tweeted that he “ couldn’t wait ” to meet the candidates. There has since been no activity on the father-of-three’s Twitter account, who regularly saw several tweets a day.
Alibaba founder Jack Ma, pictured in a photo above, is China’s richest entrepreneur and one of the country’s best-known personalities
Despite being one of China’s most successful businessmen, Mr. Ma has increasingly clashed with the regime over his preferences for a more open and market-oriented economy. There is no indication to date that he has suffered physical harm.
Until recently, he had been a leader of China’s unique approach to generating wealth by unleashing market forces within a tightly controlled communist framework.
The English teacher turned business mogul achieved rock star status and even played an invincible kung fu master in a 2017 star-studded film.
And even as tensions between the United States and China escalated, Mr. Ma was able to extend an olive branch by donating 2,000 fans in New York City with his right-hand man Joe Tsai, which sparked a thanks from Donald Trump.
But the public launch of Mr. Ma’s payments company Ant was sabotaged by regulators in what many saw as a retaliatory measure for his explosive speech in Shanghai in October.
Regulators have since met with executives at Ant and ordered Ant to improve its corporate governance, regulatory compliance, and habit of using its size to drive competitors out of the market.
In the process, Mr. Ma, who is married to Cathy Zhang, 55, completely disappeared from public view – a sudden change all the more remarkable given his previously huge public profile.
Authorities also announced an anti-monopoly investigation into Alibaba.
Beijing has a history of ruthless actions against its internal critics, and in March a real estate mogul disappeared after calling President Xi Jinping a “ clown ” for his handling of the coronavirus crisis.
Friends of Ren Zhiqiang said they could not contact him, and six months later he was sentenced to 18 years in prison after “willingly and honestly confessing” to various corruption crimes.
Xian Jianhua, a billionaire financier, was snatched from a hotel in Hong Kong in 2017 and taken to the mainland.
He would be under house arrest more than three years later, with no official information on his location.