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Jack Ma surfaces again after 3-month hibernation

Jack Ma surfaces again after 3-month hibernation

Alibaba and Ant group co-founder Jack Ma has resurfaced again in China after having literally gone underground for the last three months as he faced the wrath of the authoritarian Xi Jinping regime.

The most famous entrepreneur in communist China addressed  school teachers in an online conference on Wednesday. Billionaire Ma, who himself was a school teacher before he attained his fortune and fame, chose the annual event to recognize the contribution of rural teachers.

His appearance was reported in the local media after being confirmed by people familiar with the matter.

China had come in for severe criticism worldwide for the crackdown on Ma and his emergence for the first time in several months also comes at time when Joe Biden takes over US President.

Analysts are of the view that this may be an important factor in the authoritarian Chinese government allowing 56-year-old Ma to come back into the public gaze.

"It is quite possible that this could be a message to the new Bidden administration with which China clearly wants to normalise ties," a retired diplomat told India Narrative.

Jack Ma, who was the poster boy of China's fast growing economy, suddenly fell from grace when he publicly attacked the country’s financial regulators and government-owned banks.

Ma then suddenly disappeared from public view as the Xi administration cut him to size by launching investigations into his business empire.

There have been indications that Chinese President Xi Jinping wants to mend fences with the US. He had last week sprung a surprise by dashing off a letter to former Starbucks chairman Howard Schultz asking him to help boost trade and investment ties between the US and China. The letter came at a time when China’s relations with the US have hit rock-bottom. So the letter could also have been the proverbial olive branch.

The letter states that Beijing will "provide a broader space for companies from all over the world, including Starbucks and other American companies, to develop in China,” according to the Xinhua news agency.

Xi’s letter is reported to be in response to an earlier message from Schultz. He has urged the multi-billionaire to "continue to play an active role in promoting China-US economic and trade cooperation", the Xinhua report said.

Although it is too early to say whether the hitherto belligerent Xi, has struck a conciliatory note, analysts are of the view that this could be an attempt to reach out to the US to mend fences as Joe Biden is taking over as President in a week’s time and the Trump era draws to a close.

Earlier China’s foreign minister Wang Yi had called for the need to "restart the dialogue" and "rebuild mutual trust" with new US administration after Joe Biden takes over as President.

Since Ma had emerged as an investor on a global scale, the manner in which China deals with him would send a signal to other potential investors as well, especially at a time when global giants like Apple are moving their supply chains outside China.

"The regulatory system was stifling innovation and must be reformed to fuel growth, Ma had told a summit in Shanghai on Oct. 24 attended by China’s top financial, regulatory and political leaders.

Stung by Ma's criticism, Chinese regulators and Communist Party officials had cracked down on Ma’s sprawling financial empire, culminating in the suspension of the IPO, two days before the eagerly awaited market debut in Shanghai and Hong Kong. It was a dramatic setback for Ma, who would have added at least $27 billion to his net worth from the IPO.