Outspoken Chinese Billionaire Jack Ma Reportedly Resurfaces After Long Absence

PHILIPPE LOPEZ / Contributor

Matt Buckley Contributor
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Jack Ma, the founder of e-commerce giant Alibaba, has reappeared in Hangzhou mainland China, according to multiple reports.

The billionaire has only occasionally been seen in public over the past three years and kept a low profile since criticizing Chinese financial regulators back in 2020, the BBC reported Monday, citing Alibaba-owned South China Morning Post. He had been staying in Tokyo as of November 2022, according to the Financial Times, and was also spotted in Thailand, Spain, the Netherlands and Australia, the BBC continued.

The 58-year-old was the most prominent Chinese billionaire to have gone missing recently, following an increase in government oversight on his ventures and a crackdown on tech magnates, the BBC reported. (RELATED: Chinese Billionaire Jack Ma Resurfaces After Disappearing For Months During CCP Investigation)

Ma arrived at the Yungu School in Hangzhou, which is funded by Alibaba and located in the same city where the company is headquartered, the South China Morning Post reported. The tech giant spoke with school faculty about artificial intelligence (AI) and the recent excitement surrounding chatGPT, according to the outlet. “ChatGPT and similar technologies are just the beginning of the AI era. We should use artificial intelligence to solve problems instead of being controlled by it,” Ma said, the BBC reported.

Ma gave up control of Chinese Fintech company Ant Group in January. Analysts saw the move as a result of Ma growing too censorious of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Ant Groups’s planned flotation on the stock exchange was abruptly cancelled by Chinese regulators who cited “major issues” surrounding the company, the BBC reported.

Many speculated Ma had been detained by Chinese authorities and placed under house arrest when news of his alleged disappearance first surfaced, the BBC reported.