Chinese Billionaire Jack Ma Missing!
Greetings, friends! In most democratic countries, often politicians and governments are accused of being puppets in the hands of big capitalists and billionaires. But in some dictatorship countries like China, the opposite happens. Here, big billionaires are puppets in the hands of the government. And if they do not listen to the government, then they suddenly vanish. Quite shocking news is coming from China about China’s second richest man who prior to September was the richest man of China, Jack Ma. You must have heard his name as well. He is one of the most famous billionaires of China. He has suddenly disappeared. His last tweet was posted in October 2020. Since then, he hasn’t been found on any social media sites or seen in public anywhere. What is shocking is that allegedly prior to his disappearance, he criticized one of the policies of the Chinese communist party. In today’s blog, let’s get to know about China’s Jack Ma’s story and how China treats its billionaires. It is quite an interesting and shocking story.
First, I would like to tell you about Jack Ma and Alibaba. His is a story of rags to riches. He was born in a middle class household in 1964. He failed his college entrance exam twice. He passed the third time and completed his Bachelor’s in Arts in English. After which, he worked as an English teacher. According to a Bloomberg video, he applied for more than 30 jobs and he got rejected 30 times. One of the famous jobs was at KFC where he was rejected. Out of 24 people, he was the single person who was rejected for the job. According to him, he applied to Harvard at least 10 times and his application was rejected all 10 times. In June 1999, he founded the Alibaba company. If you do not know alibaba.com, it is one of the most famous e-commerce websites in the world. In one way, you can think of it as a mixture of Amazon, eBay and PayPal. In fact, it is also one of the most profitable websites in the world. In terms of net profit, it earns more profit than Amazon. Initially, they started off as a business to business website. If one business wants to sell something to another business then they can do so through Alibaba. But today, alibaba.com has turned into a business to consumer platform as well much like Amazon.
You can buy something on it too. If you do not know about it, it is because most of its growth happened in China. In September 2014, the Alibaba group came up with their Initial Public Offering on New York Stock Exchange. It was the largest ever IPO of that time in the United States. The company was valued at $168 billion. After being successful in e-commerce, the Alibaba company expanded in almost every sector. Today, it is present in FinTech…their companies are present in cloud computing, video streaming, movie production, healthcare, sports, retail. In fact they have even bought a news media website as well. So, in a way, you can consider Jack Ma as China’s Mukesh Ambani. Much like how Reliance is almost present in every sector in India, similarly, Alibaba is present in every sector in China. One of these companies founded by Jack Ma is Ant Group. It is quite relevant to our story. This company was founded in 2014 to run a service named Alipay which is a digital payment service like PayPal and PayTM.
Alipay became so successful that today it has more than 1 billion users. Again, if you haven’t heard of it, it is because the majority of its users are in China. Due to all these reasons, jack Ma’s net worth today is more than 50 billion dollars. Until recently, he was also China’s richest person as well. After achieving so much, on 24th Oct, 2020, Jack Ma committed a small mistake.
He criticized the Xi Jinping government. He didn’t even criticize the entire governance but rather just a specific aspect; the government’s financial regulatory system. He said that Chinese banks work with pawn shop mentality. They believe in the principle of zero risk. So, when banks have to offer a loan to someone then they would not offer that loan without collateral even if the person has a good business idea. It is almost next to impossible to get collateral-less loans. And why is it so?
Simply because banks are afraid that if loans are not repaid then it will turn into bad loans and NPAs, something which happens in India today. But Jack Ma believes in free market policies. He believes that if banks work with so less risk then it would not be beneficial. India here is on one extreme that banks offer loans without proper checks. So many NPAs have come up due to which banks are crashing which too is not a good thing. Jack Ma says that the other extreme too is not good that banks function with zero risks. It results in heightened pressure on entrepreneurs and businessmen. If they have to give so much collateral then they would not be able to innovate. According to Jack Ma, this policy of China inhibits innovation. This was the scenario on 24th October.
On 5th November, 2020, it was planned that Ant Group, the FinTech company that he has founded would roll out its IPO at the Chinese Stock Market. This company expected its valuation to be pegged at more than $300 billion. And if this would have happened then Jack Ma’s personal net worth would have crossed $60 billion.
But just one week after 24th October, the Chinese government changed their rules and regulations itself. According to the new rules and regulations, Ant Group automatically got disqualified for the Initial Public Offering. Right after this, the top watchdog of the Chinese government, the Alibaba Company is not following the anti-competition practices. They launched their investigation on Alibaba. They said that Alibaba is not following anti-monopoly rules and is violating them. This investigation taking place and the upheaval of the rules; all of this is happening because Jack Ma criticized the Chinese government! Some people believe that it has happened because of it. However, there are some other reasons as well. This can only be considered a partial reason.
Experts believe that Chinese government was afraid that Alipay is getting so big that money is now moving away from Chinese banks and into Alipay. The Chinese government was feeling very uncomfortable that the control of money was going to a private company here. And that it is no longer with the government This is also quoted as one of the reasons as to why this is happening. But due to this regulatory crackdown, the share market value of Alibaba fell by 17% in the month of December. In the month of December only, many media houses reported how the online trolling done by Chinese IT cells has increased against Jack Ma. Jack Ma is being defamed by the trolls in the Chinese IT Cells. He used to be called “uncle horse” because the meaning of “Ma” in Jack Ma is horse so he was known as “uncle horse”. Recently, in the last one month, Chinese media websites i.e. the government media and Chinese government IT cell trolls have portrayed him as a vampire. A vampire that exploits the poor and sucks their blood. This way, his online image is also being defamed.
Jack Ma also created a talent show, Africa’s Business Heroes. Consider it as a show like India’s Got Talent. He was also a judge on this show. The finale of the show was supposed to happen in November and he was not present in the show’s finale.
He just didn’t come. And from here questions started being raised as to where Jack Ma is? Has Jack Ma disappeared? But even as January is here, there has been no post on social media, no public appearance has been made by Jack Ma, and people have now started raising questions. News broke out in the entire world that where is Jack Ma? Has the Chinese government abducted him? Have they nabbed him and put him in jail? These speculations are being raised. Although some newspapers have reported according to their “sources” that Jack Ma is lying low. He is just hiding from the public. Nothing has happened to him. There is no such problem. Chinese government hasn’t arrested him. He wants to stay away from the public. He wants to take some time off. But similar news came in September 2019 when he retired from Alibaba Company. It was speculated then there were tensions between Jack Ma and the Chinese Communist Party. In fact, the Chinese politicians did not want Jack Ma to become so powerful and rich at all.
Latest updates are CNBC’s David Faber reported that Jack Ma is not missing. Instead, he is just lying low. After this news…this news came on Tuesday. After this news, the share of Alibaba has registered a 5% increase again. But, if the Chinese government has actually done something against Jack Ma… If he has been put in jail or has abducted him, then what is surprising is that it isn’t the first time that the Chinese government has done something like this.
You will be shocked to hear the old stories. The fist story is of Ren Zhejiang, a very rich and influential Chinese property executive. Last year, he called Xi Jinping a “clown” because of the Chinese government’s response to Coronavirus. After which, he went missing. When he was finally found then it was known that one of Beijing’s courts had sentenced him to 18 years. He was put in jail on charges of Corruption. The court said that he has voluntarily confessed to all the charges. He has admitted himself that he is corrupt and for which he will remain in jail for 18 years.
The second story is of a lawyer Chen Quiche. Post the outbreak in Wuhan, he wrote numerous emotional posts on social media against the government while criticizing the local government, stating their inefficiency and against the restriction on freedom of speech in China. After which he went missing. After a year, his friend revealed that he has been allegedly detained by the Chinese authorities. The third story is of Xiao Jianhua. He too was a billionaire asset manager. He criticized the Chinese government’s regulator after which he was abducted by Chinese authorities from a hotel in January 2017. Post this, he went missing. All his wealth, his company was seized by Chinese authorities and the Chinese government took it under its ownership. So, it isn’t surprising that Jack Ma said it himself “I think among the richest men in China, very few have good endings.” So very few amongst the rich billionaires in China have a happy ending It is quite shocking for us to see such rich people who are billionaires, who have so much money, even after that they can’t do anything. After they make a small criticism, governments seize them, put them in jail, and snatch away their companies. It has no value in China. It is quite an interesting contrast especially with such democratic countries where billionaires are accused of playing a puppeteer to the politicians and politicians fall on their feet. We see two extremes here. None of the two extremes are good. On one hand is crony capitalism, companies getting very big, becoming a monopoly, quashing all competition, having control over media and politics. On the other hand is the government getting so powerful that no company can survive in front of it and no individual can stand up to it. Thank you so much.