Jack Ma sighting: Chinese billionaire reportedly plays golf on secluded island
Alibaba founder was rumored to have been imprisoned after calling for reform
Jack Ma, the founder of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group, has been spotted in public for the first time in months following rumors that he’d run afoul of Chinese authorities.
The billionaire was seen golfing at Sun Valley Golf Resort on the island of Hainan recently, Bloomberg reported.
A witness who told Bloomberg they saw Ma on the 27-hole course described him as a golfing novice, according to the report.
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ALIBABA’S JACK MA MAKES FIRST LIVE APPEARANCE IN 3 MONTHS ONLINE
More significantly, the sighting marks the first time Ma has been seen since he participated in a video meeting with teachers on Jan. 20 and the first time he was seen in-person publicly since Oct. 24.
Ma’s apparent disappearance followed a speech in which he called for financial regulation reform.
“Today’s financial system is the legacy of the Industrial Age,” Ma said then, per Yahoo Finance. “We must set up a new one for the next generation and young people.”
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The speech reportedly did get Ma in trouble with Chinese authorities, and the timing of his departure from the public eye fueled rumors that he had been imprisoned or his assets had been seized. The planned $37 billion IPO of Alibaba’s Ant Group was suspended in the speech’s aftermath, Reuters reported.
While Ma’s appearance on the links indicates that Ma has not been locked up, his businesses have faced increased Chinese government scrutiny. Bloomberg reported that Ant faced an antitrust probe and has made a restructuring agreement with Chinese officials that has yet to be announced publicly.