Alibaba founder Jack Ma has returned to China, according to the South China Morning Post (SCMP). Capping a more than year-long overseas trip. Which industry observers saw as reflecting the sober mood of China’s private companies.
Jack Ma, one of the most well-known businesspeople, left China in late 2020. And has since been photographed in Japan, Australia, and Thailand.
He was once one of the country’s most outspoken businessmen. But he stepped back from the public eye in late 2020 after criticizing China’s regulatory system. Which was subsequently blamed for sparking a broad regulatory crackdown by Beijing.
While Chinese officials said in recent months that the crackdown had ended. And that they would look for ways to support the private sector. Chinese entrepreneurs said Ma’s decision to remain abroad was a factor undermining confidence.
Following the publication of the SCMP story, Alibaba shares in Hong Kong increased by more than 4%.
The SCMP story did not say when Ma returned to China, but it did say that he visited a school he established in Hangzhou, the home of Alibaba and financial technology company Ant Group, citing sources.
It went on to say that he had returned to China after a short stop in Hong Kong.
Requests for comment were not quickly returned by Alibaba. The school, Yungu Education, announced on WeChat on Monday that Ma had visited its campus and shared photos and a video of the Alibaba founder at the school.
Ma also recently ceded control of Ant Group, a Chinese fintech behemoth, in an overhaul intended to put an end to a broader regulatory crackdown.