Alibaba founder Jack Ma returns to China after a year of uncertainty

by Ana Lopez

Jack Ma’s whereabouts are making headlines again about a year after the billionaire founder of Alibaba disappeared from the public eye.

Bloomberg reported on Monday that Ma had chosen to stay abroad despite China’s efforts to restore confidence in entrepreneurs, citing unnamed sources. Within hours, however, news surfaced that Ma actually attended an Alibaba-funded K-12 school in Hangzhou, according to a article issued by the school, Yungu.

The Bloomberg article was since updated to reflect Ma’s appearance in Hangzhou, home of the founder and Alibaba, where he talked about how ChatGPT posed a challenge to education during school attendance.

The renewed focus on Ma’s location comes as China seeks to show support for the private sector following a years-long crackdown on the tech industry, including the shelving of the IPO plans of Ant Group, Alibaba’s fintech affiliate. The movement prompted some founders to do so move abroad and seek overseas expansion.

Ma’s news also comes as Chinese technology companies in the West are under unprecedented pressure. Last Thursday, US lawmakers grilled TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew at a congressional hearing that lasted five hours, asking hard questions that exposed the irreconcilable differences between the two superpowers. The hearing, as one Chinese founder told, sent a chill.

TikTok isn’t alone in hitting roadblocks in the US. A group of ‘companies and individuals’ has a “Shut down Shein” campaign to question the business practices of Shein, the fast fashion giant headquartered in Singapore that has risen to global dominance thanks to its data-driven supply chains in China. She in refuted a report that was at risk of being shut down in the US

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