Alibaba tycoon Jack Ma ends speculation on disappearance, appears in live online meeting with teachers in rural China

Alibaba co-founder and Chinese tycoon Jack Ma’s live online meeting with teachers in rural China on Wednesday (20 January) has ended speculation on his purported disappearance, according to state-backed Tianmu News.

Reuters reported today that this was his first public appearance since October.

According to the Jack Ma Foundation, Mr Ma had taken part in the online ceremony of the annual Rural Teacher Initiative event today. Alibaba Group also confirmed that Jack Ma attended the online event.

Mr Ma was reportedly seen speaking directly to the camera from a room with grey marble walls and a striped carpet in a 50-second video. However, it was unclear as to where he was speaking.

Previously, Mr Ma would attend ceremonies held by his namesake foundation in the Chinese city of Sanya in celebration of recipients of the Jack Ma Rural Teachers Award.

“We cannot meet in Sanya due to the epidemic,” he said in the speech. “When the epidemic is over, we must find time to make up for everyone’s trip to Sanya, and then we will meet again.”

Mr Ma’s last public appearance was at a forum where he delivered a speech criticising China’s regulatory system, which led to China suspending a $37-billion IPO of Alibaba’s financial affiliate Ant Group.

Chinese regulators, in tightening fintech regulations, had also ordered an overhaul of Ant Group and commenced separate antitrust investigations into Alibaba within a matter of days.

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