Banished From China by Xi Jinping, Jack Ma to Teach Sustainable Agriculture and Food Production in Japan

Chinese tech billionaire Jack Ma is joining the University of Tokyo where he would teach management and sustainable agriculture, according to reports. Reports from late last year said Ma was found to be living in Japan after he apparently left China following the crackdown on his business empire by Beijing.

Falling Out With Xi

The founder of pioneering Chinese tech company Alibaba Group has been missing from China in the last few years ever since his disastrous fallout with Chinese President Xi Jinping. Ma's troubles began when he questioned the regulatory practices under the Xi Jinping government. Xi Jinping said in 2020 that the plan was to make China a more state-controlled economy based on domestic demand. Ma had obliquely criticized the move, drawing ire from the top echelons of the party-led government.

Jack Ma
Jack Ma makes rare public appearance Wikimedia Commons

Invitation From Japan

According to the latest reports, Ma, 58, has an invitation from Tokyo College to teach there and he will be associated with the institution from May to October 31. A report by IANS said Ma's contract may be renewed annually.

"He founded the Jack Ma Foundation in 2014, and its efforts are focused on supporting education, entrepreneurship and environmental protection, among other areas. Ma is a United Nations Sustainable Development Goals Emeritus Advocate and serves as a global board member of The Nature Conservancy and is co-chair of the Paradise Foundation," Tokyo College said in a statement.

Has Been Living in Tokyo

In November last year, the Financial Times reported that Ma left China and his family were living in Tokyo. Ma was in the spotlight in the previous two years after the Chinese government launched a vicious crackdown on his business empire. At the beginning of 2021 there was intense speculation that Jack Ma had gone missing, and that he may have been arrested by the government.

China's Alibaba secures $3 billion loan to finance acquisition spree
A logo of Alibaba Group is pictured at its headquarters in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, China, October 14, 2015. Reuters

The Crackdown on Alibaba and Ant Group

In December 2020 there were reports that China was mulling the nationalization of Alibaba. Reports said the Chinese government could be working on a plan to nationalize Jack Ma's Alibaba and the Ant Group. China's ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) also launched an antitrust investigation into e-commerce giant Alibaba. "Based on tip-offs received by the State Administration for Market Regulation in recent days, the administration will be investigating Alibaba ... for suspected monopolistic activities," the government said.

The feared nationalization did not take place, but Beijing's crackdown on the biggest tech group in the country continued unabated. In February, the Ant Group was forced to reach a restructuring agreement with Chinese regulators. As per the agreement, the fintech giant was to be turned into a financial holding company. Under the plan, all of Ant's businesses will be transferred onto a holding company. This includes Ant's technology offerings in sectors like blockchain and food-delivery.

Xi Jinping
Xi Jinping Wikimedia Commons

Ant Group IPO Quashed

In February 2021, the Chinese Communist Party decided to block the initial public offering of the Ant Group. It was reported that Xi believed that the IPO of Jack Ma's Ant Group would have a host of unwelcome beneficiaries besides adding stress to the financial system. Ant Group's complex ownership structure meant that a host of people in Beijing's crosshairs would have gained immensely from what would have been the world's largest IPO.

In March, reports said the CCP government was pressuring Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. to sell some of its media assets, including the South China Morning Post published from Hong Kong.

And in April, the Chinese government slapped a multi-billion dollar fine on Alibaba. The internet behemoth was hit with a record antitrust fine of $2.84 billion after they found that it had abused its market dominance.