Jack Ma has resurfaced in a short online video praising China’s teachers, marking the first time the billionaire has been seen in public since the dramatic suspension of Ant Group’s planned $37bn initial public offering.
The Chinese tech entrepreneur and founder of ecommerce group Alibaba dropped out of public view after criticising the country’s regulators and state-owned banks in late October, prompting speculation over his whereabouts. In the wake of the speech, Mr Ma was dressed down by officials in Beijing and regulators halted the IPO of Ant, the payments firm he controls, which was set to be the largest ever.
Mr Ma also skipped the filming of a TV talent show he created for African entrepreneurs in November, which he had been set to judge.
“My colleagues and I have been studying and thinking, and we have become more determined to devote ourselves to education and public welfare,” said Mr Ma, according to local media. The video was posted online on Wednesday.
Alibaba’s Hong Kong-traded shares rose as much as 6.3 per cent after the video emerged.
Mr Ma said it was the “duty and responsibility of our generation of business operators” to support China’s rural teachers and education.
A spokesperson for the Jack Ma Foundation said Mr Ma had “participated in the online ceremony of the annual Rural Teacher initiative event on January 20”.
His charitable foundation has focused over the past year on Covid-19 relief efforts both in China and globally. Mr Ma has been hailed as a hero in Africa for donating medical supplies to the continent.
Additional reporting by Nian Liu in Beijing