China's Most Famous Mogul Has a New Gig in Japan

Jack Ma, who disappeared after angering Chinese bank regulators, is teaching at Tokyo College
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 27, 2023 6:42 AM CDT
Updated May 1, 2023 9:50 AM CDT
China Most Famous Entrepreneur Resurfaces
Jack Ma in a file photo from 2019.   (AP Photo/Thibault Camus, File)
UPDATE May 1, 2023 9:50 AM CDT

It appears that Chinese mogul Jack Ma is indeed settling into life in Japan. Ma, once China's richest person, has taken a teaching position at Tokyo College, reports Insider. The 58-year-old founder of Alibaba largely disappeared from public view after criticizing Chinese bank authorities in a 2020 speech, setting off international speculation about his whereabouts and well-being. Ma, who had retired from Alibaba in 2019, surfaced last month in China but is believed to have spent much of his low-profile time in Japan and elsewhere abroad. His estimated $60 billion fortune in 2020 was thought to have dropped by about half in the wake of his comments.

Mar 27, 2023 6:42 AM CDT

The most well-known business entrepreneur in China appears to have ended a three-year exile from the country after he ran afoul of Beijing. Jack Ma, founder of the Alibaba Group, resurfaced in China on Monday as he visited a school in Hangzhou, where his tech company is headquartered, reports the BBC. Ma appears to have been living abroad for the past three years, after his public criticism of Chinese bank regulators in a 2020 speech preceded a regulatory crackdown on private businesses—especially in the fintech sector—and massive fines on his company, per the Wall Street Journal.

Ma and the government appear to have mended fences, reports Reuters. New Premier Li Quiana asked him to return from Japan late last year to help shore up confidence in China's private sector, according to the outlet. Whether this tentative first step will make a difference is up in the air, says author Fraser Howie, viewed as an expert on Chinese business. "I can see how this sort of signals a relaxation but none of the laws and institutions set up to control the private sector have changed," he says. "The state won, Jack has lost control, power, wealth, and it's not coming back." (More Jack Ma stories.)

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