Reports says that Chairman of personal fairness agency Primavera Group, said on January 14 that Jack Ma , who had disappeared along with four other Chinese billionaires is ‘safe and sound’.
Chinese billionaire and Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma who is also one of the top 10 richest people of the world has reportedly gone missing for over two months following his controversial speech in October 2020 where he criticised the Chinese Govt.
The business tycoon had been missing since October 2020 after he made disparaging statements against Communist-ruled China’s government and was reported off the radar by several Chinese run media outlets. Ma’s remarks had the preliminary public providing IPO of Ant Group terminated on November 3 and he was summoned by the PRC’s communist party members over Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.’s CEO’s critical statements against the Chinese authorities.
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. Days after his unflattering opinion of the Chinese authorities, Ma was summoned to a meeting with Communist Party officials. His other venture, Alibaba is also under investigation for monopolistic behaviour, as per a statement released by the Chinese Communist Party’s market supervision arm.
His company was about to start a $35 billion initial public offering of Alibaba-affiliate Ant Group Co. However, in late October, Ma not only condemned the Chinese financial regulators publicly but also berated the communist regime in China that made the survival of business empires difficult to sustain in the country. This led to the anti-monopoly investigation against the business tycoon and the government ordered the domestic media to restrict reporting on the Chinese business conglomerate.
Ma has not been spotted since October. Ma was conspicuous by his absence when the billionaire was replaced as a judge in the final of his own show—Africa’s Business Heroes, a television contest for budding entrepreneurs—and his photograph was removed from the judging webpage. Apparently, he has also been conspicuously left out of a promotional video.
The disappearance of Jack Ma underscores the strained relationship between the billionaire business tycoon and the Chinese authoritarian leader Xi Jinping. Jinping has been unabashed in wielding power against those he perceives of challenging the dominance and authority of the Chinese Communist Party. The Chinese President has shown little tolerance towards dissenting views and has come down hard against those who have refused to conform to his worldview. Reportedly, China legalised secret detentions back in 2013. As such, several well-known people from various walks of life including actress Fan Bingbing, ex-Interpol chief Meng Hongwei, businessman and investor Guo Guangchang, and ex-real estate tycoon Ren Zhiqiang were made to disappear. All of them, however, mysteriously reappeared after some time. Ma’s disappearance from the public sphere is a part of a bigger design by the CCP to exact compliance and loyalty from individuals who hold great sway in shaping public opinion. It is apposite to note that Jack Ma is not the first high- profile man to have disappeared out of a thin air.
1. Investor Guo Guangchang
Rumors of the “disappearance” of Guo have been circulating on Chinese social media since 2015, with reports claiming that he was seen taken by the police at the Shanghai airport after a flight from Hong Kong to Shanghai. It is still unclear whether Guo is being detained for a corruption investigation—but public disappearance often occurs before an official announcement. In December 2015, reports emerged that Chinese businessman and investor Guo Guangchang had gone missing.
2. Actress Fan Bingbing
One of the most highest paid actress. The 37-year-old actress, who appeared in the X-Men and Iron Man film franchises, has not been seen in public since 1 July 2018 and her whereabouts have been the subject of intense speculation. Her current location is unknown but reports say she has been held in secret detention.
3. Former Interpol chief Meng Hongwei
Meng purportedly resigned in absentia in October 2018 via Chinese officials after he was secretly detained and accused of taking bribes by Chinese anti-corruption authorities. Meng Hongwei, who was the first Chinese head of Interpol, vanished on a trip back to the country from France in September 2018. He was scheduled to serve as the head of Interpol until 2020, but the organisation said he tendered his resignation days after he had gone missing from China.
4. Ex-real estate tycoon Ren Zhiqiang
Ren Zhiqiang, a former real estate tycoon and a staunch critic of China’s President Xi Jinping, had gone missing in March 2019 shortly after penning an essay critical of the Chinese Premier. Ren reportedly wrote, “I too am curiously and conscientiously studying [the] speech… what I saw …[was] not an emperor standing there exhibiting his ‘new clothes’, but a clown who stripped naked and insisted on continuing being emperor.”
Tycoons called Ma’s disappearance as a ‘design’ by the CCP for presenting dissenting views against his government publicly. Many speculated that Ma was arrested under China’s Secret Detentions Act formed in 2013. Many prominent Chinese business tycoons critical of China’s communist regime had ‘mysteriously’ disappeared since including Fan Bingbing, ex-Interpol chief Meng Hongwei, businessman and investor Guo Guangchang, and ex-real estate tycoon Ren Zhiqiang.
China’s Secret Detentions Act
While Alibaba’s spokesperson had publicly refused to make statements about Ma’s location, Primavera Group CEO and former Chinese Goldman Sachs’ chairman clarified in the media that Ma was intact well, and physically sound. Ma was increasingly skeptical about the disappearance of a Chinese judge who skipped Africa’s Business Heroes for budding entrepreneurs and his posters were removed from the contest. When Ma disappeared, this led the Chinese tech billionaire to criticize China’s regulators and authoritarian leader Xi Jinping.