Tech billionaire Jack Ma has resurfaced online after an over three month long disappearance from the public sphere. Ma emerged again online in a short, roughly 50 second long video that saw him address a group of rural educators in an online conference on Wednesday 20th January 2021. The video was released on Twitter after the usually highly visible Ma had disappeared from the public sphere, and had even been replaced as a judge on a reality TV show he had been set to appear on. His period of time away from the public eye came in early November when stocks of his online retail service Alibaba were meant to go public in a deal that was suddenly halted by intervention from the Chinese government.
The 56 year old Ma was born in 1964 in China. He rose to prominence with the growth of his online retail distribution site Alibaba, before developing a strong and recognisable personal brand as a TV personality, as well as being one of China’s most prominent philanthropists. Ma is known worldwide as an ambassador for Chinese business and an advocate for an open and market driven economy. He has however, been previously outed in 2018 as a member of the Communist Party of China (CPC), with which he continues to have a slightly tense and volatile relationship.
Last November’s events only added to the tension between Ma and the CPC as he spoke out in criticism of the Chinese government’s interventions with his business. Though most recognised for his Alibaba brand, Ma is also known as co-founder of the Ant Group – the group responsible for Alipay, China’s largest digital payment. Alipay is widely used throughout China with over one billion users and 80 million merchants. It’s total trade figures for June 2020 reached a staggering 118 trillion Chinese Yen, making it unsurprising Ma is cited as one of the world’s richest people.