Jack Ma’s whereabouts are making headlines again roughly a year after the billionaire founder of Alibaba disappeared from the public eye.
Bloomberg reported Monday that Ma had chosen to stay abroad despite China’s efforts to restore confidence in entrepreneurs, citing unnamed sources. Within hours, however, news surfaced that Ma actually visited an Alibaba-funded K-12 school in Hangzhou, according to an article published by the school, Yungu.
The Bloomberg article had since been updated to reflect Ma’s appearance in Hangzhou, home to the founder and Alibaba, where he talked about how ChatGPT posed a challenge to education during the school visit.
The renewed attention to Ma’s location comes at a time when China is trying to voice support for the private sector following a years-long crackdown on the tech industry, including shelving the IPO plans of Ant Group, the fintech affiliate of Alibaba. The movement prompted some founders to move abroad and seek overseas expansion.
The news of Ma also comes as Chinese tech firms are facing unprecedented pressure in the West. Last Thursday, U.S. lawmakers grilled TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew in a congressional hearing that spanned five hours, firing harsh questions that brought to light the irreconcilable differences between the two superpowers. The hearing, as one Chinese founder said to TechCrunch, sent a chill up their spine.
TikTok isn’t the only one running into roadblocks in the U.S. A group of “businesses and individuals” have formed a “Shut Down Shein” campaign to question the business practices of Shein, the Singapore-headquartered fast fashion giant that has risen to global dominance thanks to its data-driven supply chains in China. Shein refuted a report that it faced risks of being shut down in the U.S.