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Alibaba owner Jack Ma is back after a long absence in China following abroad in a sign Beijing may be heating to tech

March 29, 2023: In China, Alibaba founder Jack Ma has been spotted after spending months abroad, a potential sign that Beijing is warming to technology firms again following an 18-month crackdown on the sector.

Ma visited Yungu school in Hangzhou, where Alibaba is headquartered, to talk with teachers regarding how to provide education for children in the place of artificial intelligence, a WeChat post by the school of the deal.

The billionaire stated that technologies like the popular ChatGPT had brought challenges to education, but artificial intelligence was used to solve issues, according to the WeChat post.

It is the initial time Ma has publicly been in China since last year. Ma has been travelling outside China over the previous few months and has been spotted in Spain, Japan and Thailand.

Ma’s reappearance comes following an intense crackdown on his empire that started in 2020 when Ant Group, the billionaire’s financial technology company, was forced to shelve its significant listing in Hong Kong and Shanghai. Ma made critical statements of China’s financial regulator before the listing cancellation.

After that, Beijing tightened laws on the domestic sector. Alibaba, the firm Ma founded, was reached with a $2.6 billion antitrust fine in 2021.

Ant Group has been going through reform under the supervision of the central bank, complying with the regulations of China, while Ma has been slowly providing control of the fintech company.

China’s tightening of tech area rules stoked investors’ fear that President Xi Jinping was moving against private enterprises and entrepreneurs.

But China has faced weak economic development over the previous year because of its now-scrapped zero-Covid policy. Beijing has meanwhile worked to reinvigorate the place. Allowing Ma into the fold could be a clue from Beijing that it needs private businesses to do that.

“Economic increase back on track is probably the greatest political priority the Party witnesses at the moment, and an optimistic entrepreneurial class is critical to this,” Xin Sun, senior professor in Chinese and East Asian firm at King’s College London, stated.

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