Chinese billionaire Jack Ma has been erased from a reality TV show he created in a sign of continued friction with Beijing. The founder of Alibaba, often called China's Amazon, will not appear on the finale of Africa's Business Heroes, where he's been replaced as a judge and removed from the webpage and other promotional material. Per the Financial Times, the taping took place in November and an Alibaba spokesperson said Ma could not appear because of a "scheduling conflict." However, the 56-year-old English-teacher-turned-tech magnate hasn't been seen publicly after officials hit back at him following an October speech in which he complained at a business conference that China's regulators and state-run banks are hampering opportunities.
The development also comes as China has openly pressured Alibaba with the announcement of an anti-monopoly probe and the suspension of the initial public offering for its former subsidiary, financial platform Ant Group. Per the AP, the moves are part of the Communist Party's efforts to curb the influence of tech companies as they move into the financial services sector during a time when Beijing is seeking to reduce financial risks. For Ma in particular, though, this news comes after years of speculation that President Xi Jinping was planning to act against the country’s richest entrepreneur. "In Chinese culture, if you are a rich guy and you have very strong economic power and social influence, then you are politically dangerous and you need to keep a very low profile to be safe," economist Gary Liu told the New York Times last month. (Read more Jack Ma stories.)