The billionaire founder of Alibaba, Jack Ma, has lived in Tokyo for six months after the deterioration of his relationship with the Chinese authorities and his disappearance from public life in that country, according to what the Financial Times (FT) newspaper has published. Since Japan, he has kept out of the latest turmoil in China, both political and social.
Ma has remained in the Japanese capital with his family and in recent months has also made trips to other parts of Japan -such as ski resorts and spas-, as well as frequent visits to the United States and Israel, among other countries, according to reports. Said sources close to the magnate to the FT.
The Chinese businessman, one of the world's greatest fortunes at the time, has kept a very low profile since he fell out of favor with Beijing towards the end of 2020, as a result of his criticism of the Asian giant's financial bureaucracy. A shock that finally frustrated the IPO of his technofinancial (fintech) Ant Group.
That was followed by a crackdown on the private sector in China, particularly aimed at reining in the power of digital companies. Thus, the Ant Group fiasco was added to the largest antitrust fine in the history of China, imposed by Beijing on Alibaba in April 2021, worth 2.8 billion dollars, about 2.3 billion euros.
Ma's absence from public life in China has coincided with the new restrictions applied in the country within the framework of the "zero covid" policy in some of the country's main cities, including Shanghai or Hangzhou, where Alibaba has its headquarters. and in which the businessman owns a house.
Apart from the social and political problems at home, his rare public appearances have been closely followed, such as his visit to Ibiza last year or a visit to a university in the Netherlands.
During his stay in Tokyo, Ma has opted for discretion and has reduced his social life to going to a series of private clubs in the exclusive neighborhoods of Ginza and Marunouchi, frequented by other Chinese businessmen residing in Japan or staying for long periods of time in the country, according to the aforementioned sources. Ma brought his personal chef and security personnel to the country and became a keen collector of modern art, the FT added. Also, he paints himself to pass the time.
His philanthropic activities have been reduced, with the foundation that bears his name minimizing public presence.
His presence in Japan has given rise to speculation about Ma's future movements, such as entering sustainability businesses or maneuvers related to Alibaba and Ant Group, whose control he is planning to cede.