Months after Alibaba founder Jack Ma ran afoul with the Chinese Communist Party for his unflattering remarks for Chinese regulators, the business tycoon has been conspicuous by his absence in the list of Chinese entrepreneurial leaders published by the state media—the snub underlining the deteriorating relationship between Jack and the CCP.
Jack, arguably China’s best-known businessman, found no mention in an effusive front-page article published by the Shanghai Securities News, showering praises on the leading lights of technology. Instead, the state-media newspaper lauded archrival Pony Ma as “rewriting the mobile age” with Tencent Holdings Ltd. The list also included BYD Co. Chairman Wang Chuanfu, Xiaomi Corp. co-founder Lei Jun and Huawei Technologies Co.’s Ren Zhengfei.
The editorial was published on Tuesday, the same day when Alibaba was slated to report its quarterly earnings. The absence of Jack Ma in the Shanghai Securities News, one of the most important business publications, is a telltale sign of how the business baron has fallen out of favour with Beijing.
Jack Ma’s disappearance was prompted by his critical remarks for the Chinese Regulatory System
The cause for Ma’s current predicament was an October 24 speech in which slammed the Chinese regulatory system, accusing them of stifling innovations. Ma had gone on a tirade against China’s current banking system, the financial regulatory structure of the Communist-ruled country and how it was unsuitable for his fintech giant, Ant group. Ma’s critical remarks for the Communist regime, which demands nothing more than complete and utter obedience, terminated the planned IPO of his fintech giant, Ant Group, on November 3, just two days before it was scheduled to begin trading.
Following his disparaging remarks for the Chinese regulatory system, Ma, who has rarely shied away from the public glare, disappeared for almost three months, giving rise to a host of speculations about his whereabouts and well-being. He re-emerged last month with a 50-second video appearance.
Ma is not the only prominent personality to have raised the hackles of the Chinese Communist Party by raising unpopular opinions. Many other billionaires too, had made critical remarks of the Party and had similarly disappeared from the public eye for a few months. Be it Chinese businessman and investor Guo Guangchang or Chinese actor Fan Bingbing, Former Interpol chief Meng Hongwei, or Ex-real estate tycoon Ren Zhiqiang—all had to bear the brunt for not conforming to the CCP directives.