Jack Ma refuses to return to China despite government invitations, spotted at school in Hangzhou and Art Basel HK recently

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27th March 2023 – (Hangzhou) China’s efforts to mend its relationship with the private sector are facing a setback as Jack Ma, one of the country’s most prominent business leaders, refuses to return to China despite government invitations. The co-founder of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. and Ant Group Co. has all but disappeared from public life since his criticism of Chinese regulators in a 2020 speech in Shanghai.

According to Bloomberg, the Chinese government has been trying to persuade Ma to return to the country to demonstrate support for the business sector. However, Ma has refused, citing his retirement from Alibaba and his focus on agricultural technology research in the future.

In the past, China’s tightening of regulations in various industries, including real estate, internet platforms, and education, has dampened the investment climate for private enterprises. However, with President Xi Jinping refocusing on the economy, China’s new leadership is attempting to establish a business-friendly image by convincing Ma to return to the country.

Sources close to Ma have indicated that he has told senior executives at Alibaba and Ant Group not to expect him to return to China. He believes that even if he is not in China, the company will continue to succeed.

According to reports, a netizen recently spotted Alibaba Group’s founder Jack Ma in a tunnel in Hangzhou. The video shows Ma talking to other people in the vehicle.

According to sources, the people in the vehicle were Jack Ma, Alibaba Group’s Chairman and CEO Daniel Zhang, and Ant Group’s Executive Vice President Shao Xiaofeng.

A netizen recently spotted Alibaba Group’s founder Jack Ma in a tunnel in Hangzhou.

Despite Ma’s absence, Ant Group is still planning to go public, but it is unlikely to be completed this year. It is believed that the initial public offering may exclude overseas businesses, blockchain technology, and database services.

There has been no response from the Chinese Foreign Ministry or Alibaba, Ant Group, and Jack Ma Foundation regarding the reports.

The absence of Jack Ma from public life since his criticism of Chinese regulators has been concerning for many in the business sector. Ma’s refusal to return to China despite government invitations may further exacerbate tensions between the private sector and the government, which has been trying to repair its relationship with businesses.

The delay in Ant Group’s IPO may also be viewed as a sign of the Chinese government’s tightening grip on the private sector. The exclusion of certain businesses from the IPO may indicate a shift in China’s policy towards certain industries.

Meanwhile, Ma has recently returned to mainland China after over a year of overseas travel, according to sources familiar with his schedule. During his visit, Ma made a stop at Yungu School, a private school he founded in the city of Hangzhou, the hometown of Alibaba.

On Monday, Ma met with teachers and students at Yungu School, which was funded by Alibaba founders in 2017 and covers kindergarten to high school education. During his visit, the billionaire businessman discussed education issues and technology with the school, including the use of ChatGPT, an AI-based language processing tool.

Ma made a stop at Yungu School, a private school he founded in the city of Hangzhou, the hometown of Alibaba. Photo source: SCMP.

Ma’s return to China came after a brief stopover in Hong Kong, where he met with friends and also visited Art Basel, a leading global art fair. Ma is known for his passion for painting and the arts, and often incorporates these interests into his public appearances.