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  • If there's a common thread among some of China's prolific billionaires such as

  • Alibaba's Jack Ma, and Tomorrow Group's Xiao Jianhua, it's not their immense wealth,

  • but their troubles with the Chinese Communist Party.

  • The Chinese government cracking down on big tech companies.

  • And Alibaba founder Jack Ma hasn't been seen in public for 2 months.

  • Has he been away somewhere to an undisclosed site by the government? No.

  • In late October 2020, China's most recognizable businessman Jack Ma fell off the radar after

  • his negative comments about financial regulators were met by the sudden cancellation of the Ant Group IPO

  • and an anti-monopoly probe into Alibaba.

  • Despite his public reappearance almost three months later, his absence made some media outlets draw parallels

  • with other billionaires who failed to toe the Chinese government's line.

  • One who is never shy of the limelight, Ma and his Alibaba Group are household names

  • domestically and abroad, mirroring China's rise as an economic powerhouse.

  • Since the founding of his e-commerce company Alibaba in 1999, Ma's business empire now

  • spans the financial technology, entertainment and media industries,

  • including stakes in numerous companies outside China.

  • In 2014, Alibaba went public on the New York Stock Exchange and raised a then-record $25 billion.

  • Besides his reputation as a prolific businessman, Ma is known at home as a philanthropist.

  • Through his namesake foundation, Ma has donated to advance educational, environmental and philanthropic causes.

  • In 2018, it was revealed that the flamboyant billionaire was a member of the Chinese Communist Party

  • the same year he announced his retirement.

  • Despite his solid credentials, that wasn't enough to shield Ma from the ire of regulators

  • after he accused them of stifling innovation.

  • His blunt comments, which went viral on social media, were seen as an attack on the country's

  • financial watchdogs, of which several were in attendance at the same summit in Shanghai.

  • Labeling China's financial system asoutdatedand toorisk-averse,” Ma called for a revamp of the financial system,

  • from one with a “strong pawnshop mentalityto benew, inclusive and universal.”

  • 10 days after his fateful speech, the mega IPO of his sprawling financial empire, Ant Group, collapsed.

  • Chinese regulators later announced an anti-monopoly probe into Alibaba Group

  • and Ma and his executives were summoned for interviews.

  • Shortly after his public fallout, Ma failed to appear on his reality TV show, Africa's Business Heroes, which he was supposed to judge.

  • Ma isn't the first business executive to have fallen from grace after run-ins with the Chinese government.

  • In 2010, electronics billionaire Huang Guangyu, who was China's richest businessman at one point,

  • was jailed for 14 years on corruption charges.

  • He was eventually released in the middle of 2020 after a decade behind bars.

  • Shortly after the ascension of President Xi Jinping in 2012, China launched its most far-reaching anti-corruption campaign,

  • which took aim at "tigers and flies," or powerful bureaucrats and low-ranking officials.

  • These include Xu Ming, once the country's eighth richest man, who was arrested in 2012

  • on fraud charges and died in prison three years later.

  • A crackdown on the financial sector in 2015 ensnarled a string of senior executives at Chinese companies,

  • including two top executives from CITIC Securities, China's biggest brokerage.

  • Other executives who had unexplained disappearances, only to reemerge in the public eye again include

  • the chairman of investment conglomerate Fosun International, Guo Guangchang, in 2015,

  • and the billionaire founder of fashion brand Metersbonwe, Zhou Chengjian, a few months later.

  • In 2017, billionaire financier Xiao Jianhua was last seen at a luxury hotel in Hong Kong

  • and his fate remains unknown.

  • Most recently, former property executive Ren Zhiqiang of Huayuan Group, went missing after

  • criticizing President Xi's handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

  • He was later sentenced to 18 years in prison for corruption.

  • In the eight years since China's crackdown on corruption in 2012, more than 300,000 “tigers and flieshave been punished,

  • according to state news agency Xinhua.

  • The crackdown has occasionally caused jitters across the market.

  • After Fosun's Guo was reported missing, the company's Hong Kong and Shanghai-listed shares plunged when trading resumed.

  • More than two years after the disappearance of billionaire Xiao Jianhua, regulators seized

  • control of nine firms affiliated with his company, Tomorrow Group, in 2020,

  • sending share prices of these companies tumbling.

  • The shares of Ma's Alibaba also fell after reports of the anti-monopoly probe into his company surfaced.

  • Ma's Ant Group was subsequently ordered to restructure.

  • Even though Ma has retired, he continues to wield considerable influence over his companies.

  • His 50-second cameo reappearance at the start of 2021 failed to ease investor concerns.

  • It is likely, then, that his uneasy relationship with Beijing will continue to cast a long shadow over Alibaba's future.

  • This includes his philanthropic efforts, which Ma has spoken publicly about.

  • When you have 1 billion dollars, that's not your money.

  • That's the trust society gives on you.

  • They believe you can manage the money, use the money better than the government, than the others.

  • So I think today, I have the resources to do more things.

  • With the money we have, with the influence we have, we should spend more time on the young people.

  • Hey, thanks for watching, everyone.

  • We'd love to know your take on these puzzling public absences.

  • If you've enjoyed this video, do share and subscribe to us. Stay safe.

If there's a common thread among some of China's prolific billionaires such as

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Why are China’s billionaires going under the radar? | CNBC Explains

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    Summer posted on 2021/02/19
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