Jack Ma Vanished in October, Suddenly Reappears

Chinese billionaire seen at virtual educators conference after being 'missing' for months
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 20, 2021 7:23 AM CST
Jack Ma Vanished in October, Suddenly Reappears
In this Oct. 12, 2018, file photo, Jack Ma speaks during a seminar in Bali, Indonesia.   (AP Photo/Firdia Lisnawati, File)

Everyone worried about Jack Ma can breathe (a little) easier. The Chinese billionaire hadn't been seen or heard from—not even via social media—since the end of October, when he gave a scathing speech against Chinese regulators that enraged President Xi Jinping. Now, however, an encouraging update: "Jack Ma is back," per Quartz, which notes that local media is reporting the 56-year-old Alibaba co-founder and former English teacher showed up online Wednesday for a rural-educators conference that he attends annually, this year held virtually due to the pandemic. Footage—seen here and shown via state media, per CNN Business—shows a relaxed-looking, Friday-casual-dressed Ma speaking from an undisclosed location.

"Recently, my colleagues and I have been studying and thinking," Ma said in the 50-second clip. "We have further made our determination to devote ourselves to education philanthropy." After Ma's remarks last fall slamming Chinese regulators for stifling innovation, the Chinese government put a halt to the $37 billion IPO of Ant Group, Alibaba's financial affiliate. Ma, who the New York Times notes is definitely not a "wallflower," disappeared shortly after that. Quartz notes that this appearance, in which he stresses his new focus on education, may be a way of showing the Chinese government, which has placed a priority on rural education, that he doesn't plan on causing any more trouble. It made investors happy, at any rate: Once Ma suddenly popped up on computer screens Wednesday, Alibaba's stock jumped 9% in trading, after months in which the firm's market cap lost billions of dollars. (Read more Jack Ma stories.)

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