Alibaba's Jack Ma resurfaces in China

Company-owned school and newspaper confirm Ant Group founder's return

Alibaba founder Jack Ma is back in China, visiting the Yungu School in Hangzhou.

A WeChat posted by the school and a report by the South China Morning Post newspaper, both of which are owned by Alibaba, confirmed the visit.

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Ma's public reemergence supports the government's softening tone toward the private sector as leaders try to shore up an economy battered by three years of COVID-19 curbs.

During his visit, Ma, a former English teacher, discussed topics such as artificial intelligence-powered chatbot ChatGPT and said he hoped to return to teaching one day, the Yungu School said on its official WeChat account.

FILE: Jack Ma, founder of Ant Group, attends the inaugural meeting of Zhejiang E-Merchant Bank. Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, China, June 25, 2015. (Costfoto/Future Publishing via Getty Images / Getty Images)

The school was founded by Ma and other Alibaba founders in the e-commerce giant's eastern home city of Hangzhou in 2017.

China's new premier, Li Qiang, a close ally of President Xi Jinping, said Ma's return to the mainland could help boost business confidence among entrepreneurs, prompting the premier to begin asking Ma to return since late last year, five sources with knowledge of the matter told Reuters.

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Reuters contributed to this report.