Concerns and speculations have started trailing the sudden disappearance of Chinese billionaire, Jack Ma, from public space.
The former wealthiest Chinese man has not been seen in public for several weeks since he criticized China’s financial regulatory system.
Jack Ma, who is the founder of e-commerce platform, Alibaba, has not tweeted anything for nearly three months now, since his last tweet on the 10th of October, 2020.
Mr Ma was reported absent from the final episode of “Africa’s Business Heroes”, a talent show by Jack Ma Foundation, that offers 10 emerging African entrepreneurs the chance to compete for a share of US$1.5 million in prize money.
Mr Ma was originally scheduled to be on the panel that judged contestants’ business ideas. He, however, was replaced by Alibaba’s co-founder – Lucy Peng.
According to a report by Financial Times, Mr Ma’s photograph has been taken down from the judging webpage. He was also left out of a promotional video.
The report by Financial Times also cited a spokesperson for Alibaba as saying that Mr Ma could no longer be part of the judging panel, “due to a schedule conflict”.
Jack Ma, who is one of China’s most successful entrepreneurs, seems to have gotten into the bad books of the government, after he criticised the country’s regulators and its state-owned banks in late October.
In a speech made on the 24th of October, 2020, Mr Ma called for reform of the regulatory system, which he said was stifling innovation.
The 56-year-old billionaire added that Chinese banks operate with a “pawnshop” mentality.
A week after making the statement, the US$37 billion initial public offering of Ant Group, a financial technology firm co-founded by Mr Ma, was suspended by Shanghai Stock Exchange.
Also, in December, Chinese authorities opened an antitrust investigations into Alibaba for suspected monopolistic behaviour.
Authorities also ordered Ant Group to restructure its operations, a move suspected to stop the company from growing too big..
Formerly an English teacher, Jack Ma founded Alibaba in 1999. The company grew to become China’s biggest e-commerce company.
Mr Ma stepped down as the company’s chairman in 2019, but is still one of its largest shareholders.