It all started when Jack Ma missed the November talent show he had funded himself - he was replaced by another representative of Alibaba, and a photo of the company's founder disappeared from the show. According to David Faber from CNBC, we are not dealing here with a disappearance, but only with deliberate avoidance, which is to result from the tense relations between the Chinese authorities and a WEB Engineering online news billionaire concern. Local legislators initiated proceedings in connection with Alibaba's alleged practices violating antitrust law, and moreover introduced provisions blocking the Ant Group's IPO, i.e. Jacek Ma's empire, which amounted to approx. USD 37 million (in the backstage, it is said that including the Chinese president himself).
And why this lack of sympathy? The open criticism of Ma's Chinese financial regulators at the October conference in Shanghai is certainly not without significance. The billionaire then called them a club of old people, unfit to oversee China's technological innovations that block their development. And while the billionaire may have chosen to remain hidden of his own free will, his situation reminds us of the case of another Chinese businessman who disappeared after criticizing the aforementioned regulators.
This was Ren Zhiqiang, a retired real estate mogul who disappeared in March shortly after he accused the party of failing to deal with the coronavirus pandemic and was then sentenced to 18 years behind bars. In fact, Chinese authorities have also arrested other critics of their response to the pandemic, such as law professor Xu Zhangrun and human rights lawyer Zhang Xuezhong. Xiao Jianhua, in turn, was hijacked from a Hong Kong hotel in January 2017, and authorities then detained part of his company, Tomorrow Group. Reason? Authorities have accused Xiao and other tycoons of discouraging investors from investing in the Chinese stock market. Little? Also disappeared, former Interpol boss Meng Hongwei, who dissolved into thin air on a trip from France to China in 2018 and was subsequently sentenced to 13.5 years in prison for bribery. As his wife assures, the man was innocent and anti-monopoly laws in China have long ceased to serve their original purpose and have become a tool to silence those who are unfavorable to the government. Will this be the case with Jacek Ma? Time will tell.