On Friday, according to foreign media sources, Alibaba will face an astronomical fine from the Chinese Communist Party and a demand to cut ties with its founder Jack Ma. On the same day, the Financial Times reported, based on Ma’s private jet technology flight logs, that Ma still frequently flies to Beijing to directly engage with top Communist Party officials and negotiate the future of Ant.
The Financial Times reported on March 12 that flight logs compiled by flight-tracking firm Radarbox showed that Ma’s private jet, the Gulfstream Jet, had fallen sharply after he began to make fewer public appearances.
Before October 2020, Ma traveled on average once every three days; in January and February this year, he flew on average once a week, mainly to Beijing and the tropical island resort of Hainan, according to the logs, which show that Ma’s flight frequency slowed after he began to keep a low profile. He played golf there, Bloomberg reports.
Records show that Ma flew to Beijing the day after his controversial speech in Shanghai in October 2020 and stayed for four days. A few days later, at 9 p.m. on Nov. 1, 2020, Ma flew again from Hangzhou to Beijing. The Communist Party regulator has since announced that Ant will face new regulatory regulations. This Time Ma’s jet stayed in Beijing for as long as two weeks.
The report said Ma flew to Beijing when the Communist Party regulator wanted to discuss Ant matters. Ma is the controlling shareholder of Alipay, but has no official position.
Ma intervened directly in negotiations about Ant’s future, and some regulatory sources said Ma crossed directly over to them to mediate with top government officials, showing he still has access to the highest levels of the Communist Party.
Ma has made only one public appearance since his speech last October that halted the Ant Group’s IPO.
The flight log, compiled from data from flight-tracking firm Radarbox, also dispels rumors that Ma fled China to Singapore or was placed under house arrest, the paper said.
However, the Wall Street Journal reported on March 12 that Alibaba is facing an astronomical fine from the Communist Party’s antitrust agency, which could exceed the $975 million fine Qualcomm paid in 2015, the highest fine the Communist Party has ever levied on a company.
The report also said officials familiar with Beijing’s thinking said regulators don’t want to bring down Alibaba as long as it clears its ties with “flamboyant, mouthy” founder Jack Ma and sides more closely with China’s Communist Party.