Jack Ma’s whereabouts are making headlines again, roughly a year after the billionaire founder of Alibaba disappeared from the public eye.
Ma had chosen to stay abroad despite China’s efforts to restore confidence in entrepreneurs, Bloomberg reported, citing unnamed sources. Within hours, however, it seems 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, which is home to the founder and Alibaba. He reportedly talked about how ChatGPT posed a challenge to education during the visit.
Interest in Ma’s whereabouts has renewed recently, given that 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 to expand their businesses overseas.
The news 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.