Alibaba and the 40 officials: Can Chinese Big Tech learn to love Big Brother?

The government’s crackdown eases, but the damage has been done.

A hologram of Alibaba CEO Daniel Zhang at an event demonstrating the company's Cloud ME technology in Beijing on Feb 6, 2022. PHOTO: REUTERS
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Mr Jack Ma, China's most famous entrepreneur, has not been one to mince his words about the role of government and business. At a meeting with corporate leaders in Bali in 2018 he told the audience that it is not the government that makes business and innovation happen. That is the work of entrepreneurs, he insisted: "They have the ideas and dreams."

A harsh crackdown that began in late 2020 on China's largest consumer Internet groups has made such inspiring sentiments harder to sustain. For the first time the leading firms are suffering slowing revenue growth.

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