Chinese billionaire Jack Ma makes first public appearance since October in online meet with rural teachers

Rituparna Chatterjee
·2 min read
<p>Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma was not seen in public for the past several weeks</p> (Reuters)

Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma was not seen in public for the past several weeks

(Reuters)

Chinese billionaire Jack Ma, who has not made a public appearance in nearly three months, resurfaced in a video conference with rural teachers on Wednesday, promising to “meet each other again” once the coronavirus pandemic abates.

Dressed in a navy pullover, Mr Ma, who is the founder of e-commerce platform Alibaba, is seen speaking directly to the camera.

News portal Tianmu News, which first reported Mr Ma’s online meeting, quoted the billionaire as telling the teachers, “after Covid-19, we’ll meet each other again.”

The Jack Ma Foundation said that Mr Ma participated in the online ceremony of the annual Rural Teacher Initiative event on Wednesday, which Alibaba Group also confirmed.

He addressed teachers receiving the Jack Ma Rural Teachers Award.

“We cannot meet in Sanya due to the epidemic. When the epidemic is over, we must find time to make up for everyone’s trip to Sanya, and then we will meet again!” Mr Ma said. It is not immediately clear where Mr Ma was speaking from.

On 24 October, 2020, during a speech at a summit, the 56-year-old tech magnate had attacked the communist nation’s banking system and called for reforms. He had even said that Chinese banks operate with a “pawnshop” mentality.

The speech had come just a couple of weeks before the scheduled initial public offering (IPO) of the Ant Group, which is backed by Mr Ma.

The stock market listing was claimed to be the world’s biggest IPO with a value of about $35bn (£25.5bn) but just a couple of days before it was to happen China’s regulatory authorities suspended it, citing “major issues”.

Subsequently, a series of actions had been taken against Mr Ma’s companies including an antitrust investigation into Alibaba. The firm’s $10bn (£7.3bn) buyback programme in December failed to excite the market.

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