The vanishing billionaire: How Jack Ma fell foul of Xi Jinping

Alibaba founder’s dramatic rise and fall illustrates China’s wary embrace of tycoons who power economic growth

Alibaba founder Jack Ma’s greatest lesson for the legions of Chinese entrepreneurs he has inspired may be reminding them that the Chinese Communist Party reigns supreme and that any private business, no matter how strategically important to the country’s future, will be brought to heel if it is perceived to jeopardise the party. PHOTO: REUTERS

China's most outspoken billionaire has gone silent. No one has seen Jack Ma at the business school he founded. Nor at his tai chi studio. His raucous speeches headlining an annual meeting of entrepreneurs in his home province of Zhejiang have been put on hold.

Since Chinese President Xi Jinping unexpectedly called off the blockbuster public offering of Ant Group, Mr Ma's payments and lending business, five months ago, Mr Ma has made a single public appearance.

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