Jack Ma, the founder of Alibaba Group, has disappeared from public view for about two months. The British media “Financial Times” on January 8 cited analysis that Ma’s issue may have become a politically sensitive issue in the Chinese Communist Party. Forbes and other media outlets said that before Ma, Guo Guangchang, Ren Zhiqiang and many other Chinese tycoons had disappeared and been investigated.
Forbes said in an article on the 7th that once Chinese tycoons are suspected of touching the political and economic stability of the authorities, they will be investigated and disconnected, and Jack Ma is the latest case.
Before Ma, Guo Guangchang, chairman of Fosun Group and known as “China’s Warren Buffett,” was investigated by authorities on Dec. 10, 2015, for “involvement in corruption,” the article said. Guo Guangchang’s Fosun Group has assets of $115 billion.
Zhou Chengjian, the founder of apparel company Metersbonwe, was investigated by officials in January 2016 for “insider trading and stock price manipulation” and only showed up a week later. Metersbonwe had revenues of more than $800 million in 2019, and Zhou himself has $1.3 billion in assets.
Xiao Jianhua, the head of the Tomorrow system, disappeared for up to three years after being forcibly brought back to the mainland from Hong Kong by Beijing in January 2017, and his whereabouts are still unknown, while the China Securities Regulatory Commission has taken over nine financial institutions of Tomorrow Holdings since July last year.
Beijing real estate tycoon Ren Zhiqiang was sentenced to 18 years in prison last September on several economic charges and his assets were confiscated by the authorities after he angrily criticized the authorities’ lack of prevention and sarcastically described Xi Jinping as “a clown who insists on being the emperor even after being stripped naked.
The report quoted Aaron Friedberg, a professor of politics and international affairs at Princeton University, as saying that the situation of these Chinese tycoons shows that the Chinese Communist Party is trying to eliminate all possible factors that could challenge the regime.
According to French newspaper Le Monde, Ma’s situation is reminiscent of that of Wu Xiaohui, the former president of Anbang, who was sentenced to 18 years in prison and confiscation of his entire fortune after disappearing for a period of time, and it is clear that in China no one, not even the most powerful and well-known entrepreneur, can go against the will of the politically powerful.
According to a new analysis by the Financial Times, the Chinese government recently ordered the media not to report on the anti-monopoly news of Alibaba, so the meaning behind it may be that Jack Ma has become a sensitive issue in Chinese state politics.
Xiao Qiang, a research scholar at the University of California, Berkeley’s School of Information Studies, told the Financial Times that the wording of the official ban on the media was “harsh and unusual” and very similar to the wording of reports on “major political events,” such as the qualitative coverage of the Bo Xilai case.
Xiao believes that Ma’s businesses are directly linked to some of China’s most powerful political families, and that his troubles this time may have a high political profile.