Hong Kong — Alibaba Group founder Jack Ma just made his first public appearance in months as his tech empire continues to face scrutiny from Chinese regulators.
His absence had fuelled speculation over his whereabouts amid increasing official scrutiny of his businesses.
The billionaire resurfaced Wednesday, in a video published by Chinese state media. He was shown speaking to teachers in rural China as part of a philanthropic event.
The annual event is usually hosted in the resort city of Sanya, but was held online this year because of Covid-19 restrictions.
The video published online by Tianmu News, a subsidiary of the Zhejiang government’s official newspaper. Zhejiang province is home to Hangzhou, the city where Alibaba is based.
However, It was not clear from the video or the Tianmu News article where he was speaking from.
Jack Ma had not made a public appearance or social media post since late October, just over a week before Alibaba’s financial affiliate Ant Group was scheduled to list on the Shanghai and Hong Kong stock exchanges.
The IPO was blocked at the last minute by Chinese regulators, and his companies have since been targeted as part of an escalating crackdown on tech by Beijing.
Suspicions about Mr Ma’s whereabouts were raised earlier this month, when he missed the recording of Africa’s Business Heroes, a television show on which he was a judge.
Although Alibaba attributed his absence to a scheduling conflict, several media reports said he had not been seen since making comments that were seen as critical of China’s banking system at a public event in Shanghai in October.