Alibaba founder Jack Ma, who has kept an extremely low public profile amid China's regulatory clampdown on his sprawling Internet business empire, made a rare appearance on Monday.
The Chinese business tycoon, who has lost considerable heft in the aftermath of an ugly faceoff with the Chinese Communist Party (CCP government, made a visit to the Hangzhou campus of Alibaba, Reuters reported.
Ma was on the campus to attend the annual "Ali Day" staff and family event of the e-commerce group.
Traveling on Shuttle Bus
Ma was spotted travelling on a shuttle bus alongside other Alibaba executives in the semi-open air Alibaba campus. Photographs taken at the event showed a cheerful Ma wearing blue T-shirt, white trousers and Chinese-style cloth shoes.
"It's so exciting to see Jack ... It's a pity there was no chance to take a photo with him," an employee said, according to the news agency.
Ma has been in the eye of a storm ever since he criticized Chinese President Xi Jinping and questioned the regulatory practices in the country last week. His fortunes started waning after he criticized President Xi Jinping's regulatory policies last year. Xi Jinping had said in October 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.
Tech Wizard Being Hounded
The Chinese antitrust investigators opened probe into Jack Ma's companies in late last year, triggering rumors that the tech wizard was being hounded.
By the end of December last year, there were reports that the Chinese government was planning to nationalize Alibaba, Jack Ma's flagship company, as well as Ant Group.
In February, the WSJ reported that the Chinese Communist Party decided to block the initial public offering of the company as 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.
A report in March had said that the CCP government has been pressuring Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. to sell some of its media assets, including the South China Morning Post published from Hong Kong.
In early 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.
In late April, in a further crackdown on tech billionaire, Chinese authorities ordered an investigation into the processes leading up to Ant Group's launching of the listing process.
Ma had also gone 'missing' from the public view as Chinese regulators launched a raid and further probe into Alibaba ant Ant Group last year. There have been speculations that China has been trying to the business empire Ma built up over the decades. Reports in western media also said there are talks in China's top echelons of at least forcing the tech tycoon out of his businesses.