Jack Ma Left Off Chinese State Media’s ‘Top Business Leaders’ List

Alibaba founder Jack Ma resurfaced again on 20 January after being out of public view for nearly 3 months. 

2 min read
Alibaba Group founder and executive chairman Jack Ma. 

Alibaba founder Jack Ma was conspicuously absent from a list of China’s entrepreneurial greats published by state media on Tuesday, 2 February, underscoring how the iconic Alibaba co-founder has run afoul of Beijing, Bloomberg reported.

Ma, hailed at home for creating some of his country’s largest corporations, didn’t make the cut in a Shanghai Securities News front-page commentary lauding the ‘leading lights of technology.’

Instead, the official Chinese paper held up archrival Pony Ma as “rewriting the mobile age” with Tencent Holdings Ltd. Also on its list were BYD Co Chairman Wang Chuanfu, Xiaomi Corp co-founder Lei Jun and Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei.

Shanghai Securities News, which is backed by the official Xinhua News Agency, ran a commentary on its front-page on the same day when Alibaba Group Holding Ltd was slated to unveil its earnings, according to the Bloomberg report.

The newspaper wrote, “A generation of Chinese entrepreneurs emerged from the rigid structures of our old economic system with the desire to escape poverty and passion to achieve business ambitions. They have breathed new life into China’s economic reforms.”

Ma was "missing" for nearly three months from public view, giving rise to intense speculation regarding his whereabouts. He resurfaced again on 20 January.

The Alibaba founder's disappearance from public view came at a time when he's had recent run-ins with the Chinese government. Neither the Chinese government nor Alibaba had offered an explanation on his whereabouts.

Ma, a ruling Communist Party member, stepped down as Alibaba chairman in 2019. He is on Alibaba's board of directors and serves as a mentor to the company's new management.

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