The missing Alibaba founder: where is Jack Ma?

The missing Alibaba founder: where is Jack Ma?

Seit zwei Monaten fragen sich immer mehr Menschen in China und dem Rest der Welt: Wo steckt Jack Ma? Anfang November hatte die chinesische Staats- und Parteiführung den charismatischen Gründer des Internet-Riesen Alibaba einbestellt, um ihm zu zeigen, dass im Reich der Mitte die Staats- und Parteiführung immer das letzte Wort hat - ganz egal, wie viele Milliarden Dollar jemand auf dem Konto hat. Jack Ma hatte am 24. Oktober in einer Rede in Shanghai die chinesischen Behörden als altbacken und rückständig angeprangert und mehr regulatorische Freiheiten für Fintech-Konzerne wie die Ant Group gefordert.Der verschwundene Alibaba-Gründer: Wo ist Jack Ma?

MA pulled the cut back then and practically at the last second the record stock exchange of Alibaba Fintech subsidiary ANT Group with a volume of 37 billion dollars was postponed. Since then, it has become silent about the communicative Jack Ma; his social media accounts also remain silent. His last post on the Weibo platform dates from 17 October. In November, he was even sawn off as a juror at the Chinese TV show Africa's Business Heroes and was replaced at short notice.

Meanwhile, Chinese regulators are continuing to take action against Jack Ma's widely branched business empire. The former English teacher owns more than four percent of the online giant Alibaba, which in turn owns one third of ANT Group.

But where is he? Are the Chinese authorities holding the billionaire somewhere against his will or is he under house arrest because he has gone too far with his verbal attacks against financial supervision and state banks?

& quot; I think he was told to lie down, & quot; says Duncan Clark, head of BDA China & APOs; s tech consulting company in Beijing. "this is a rather unusual situation, which is more related to the sheer size of ANT and the sensitivities of financial regulation," said Clark.

Has learned the limits of criticism: Yuwen Deng

The party has the longer lever

DW-Kolumnist Yuwen Deng weiß, was es heißt sich mit der Staatsspitze in Peking anzulegen. 2018 veröffentlichte er in der "New York Times" einen Artikel mit dem Titel "Sieben Tipps für Xi Jinping", in dem er demokratische Reformen in China forderte und daraufhin seinen Job als Redakteur beim Medium "Study Times" verlor. Mittlerweile forscht er an der Universität Nottingham in England.Der verschwundene Alibaba-Gründer: Wo ist Jack Ma?

& quot; Beijing wants to take stricter action against the monopoly position of some fintech providers in order to retain their capital power and restore the authority of the supervisory authority, & quot; Deng explains. This serves risk management, because the regulation has so far been rather deficient and the expansion of China & APOs; s fintech industry has not been manageable in the past. Beijing also wants to ensure that no tech giant like Alibaba dares to challenge the party & APOs; s power in the future. & quot; Beijing also thinks politically, & quot; Deng points out.

In China, it happens time and again that prominent entrepreneurs disappear from the screen. After that, they often go to prison for many years of imprisonment. Around 2010, the former richest man in China and founder of the Gome electric market chain, Huang Guangyu, was sentenced to 14 years in prison for corruption. Guo Guangchang, whose corporate conglomerate Fosun International works closely with the German vaccine developer BioNTech, also disappeared for some time in 2015.

Last year, the billionaire real estate magnate Ren Zhiqiang was arrested for criticizing China & APOs; s response to the coronavirus. In September, he was sentenced to 18 years in prison. And on Thursday, state television reported that the former head of the China Development Bank, Hu Huaibang, must live behind bars for bribery.

It is no wonder that many super empires in the Middle Kingdom apparently keep in mind the well-known Chinese saying: "A man is afraid to become famous, like a pig about to get fat. 'this seems to be strict-unlike Jack Ma-the founder of the Internet company Tencent, Ma Huateng: he is averse to the media and avoids public appearances.

Riddle rates around Ma & APOs; s whereabouts

Shaun Rein operates the China Market Research Groupin Shanghai and has regular contact with Alibaba managers and people from Jack Ma & APOs; s environment. No one mentioned to him that the billionaire is in legal difficulties.

"Sie haben ihm in den Hintern getreten, er hat seine Lektion gelernt und deshalb hat er sich in den letzten zwei Monaten ruhig verhalten", wird Rein von der Nachrichtenagentur AP zitiert. "Einige seiner Freunde sagten mir, sie können nicht glauben, wie dumm er war."Der verschwundene Alibaba-Gründer: Wo ist Jack Ma?

Anything but public aversion: Jack Ma on stage at Alibaba & APOs; s 10th birthday

In any case, it was risky to attack the top level of Chinese decision makers head-on in his speech at the end of October. In addition to representatives of financial supervision, China & APOs; s Vice President Wang Qishan was among the audience of the Shanghai Economic Conference.

MA denounced an outdated "pawnhouse mentality" at China's regulators that hampered Fintechs's innovation. He called on financial supervision to support unconventional approaches to facilitate entrepreneurs and young people to borrow. "the race of tomorrow will be a race of innovation, not regulatory opportunities," said Ma from the Hong Kong newspaper "Apple Daily".

MA has obviously taken a decisive step too far with this attack. For years, the fear among decision-makers in Beijing has been around that the gigantic debt bubble of companies and private households in the Middle Kingdom could eventually burst. Largely unregulated consumer loans awarded by a fintech company like ANT Group on the net with a few clicks-that & APOs; s the stuff that makes the nightmares of Chinese financial supervisors. In any case, Vice President Wang warned, according to information from the business magazine "Caixin" at the Shanghai conference, that new technologies will improve efficiency, but "increase financial risks."

Will be more regulated in the future: ANT Group & APOs; s billion-dollar credit business

Beijing crisis management

Beijing appears to fear that the rising debt in China could trigger a financial crisis and has great respect for the fact that international rating agencies could downgrade the creditworthiness of Chinese government bonds. It was only in mid-November that the Hongqiao aluminium group had to digest a downgrade.

China & APOs; s regulators continue to attract the reins accordingly. Last December's weekend, ANT Group's top managers had to compete with China's central bank and were called upon to "correct" "mistakes" in ANT Group's credit, insurance and asset management services. Whether Jack Ma voluntarily withdrew to his house in Hangzhou, just 200 kilometers southwest of Shanghai, or is under house arrest, state pressure against his previously uncontrolled corporate empire is likely to continue to increase.