Why did Jack Ma of Alibaba disappear for three months?

In November 2020, before some commercial success, the millionaire who was speaking suddenly disappeared.

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Ms. Alibaba's company has risen from an online store from her apartment, to one of the world's largest tech giants.

Today, it reaches nearly 800 million users through services including online shopping, cloud computing and artificial intelligence.

The tech boss is known for its fiery presence and advertising qualifications.

He has censored thousands of his staff and provided them with music numbers such as You Raise Me Up.

His latest project, Ant Group, directs the digital payment market in China through its Alipay financial system.

Controversial discourse

The company aims to restructure banks in China, removing electricity away from traditional facilities.

On October 24 in Shanghai, Ant Group was poised to launch the world's largest public offering in stock exchange.

Earlier, Ma spoke to a group of elite people about a controversial speech criticizing China's financial system.

He did not appear in public again until the end of January. Meanwhile, there have been rumors that he may have been arrested in the house or otherwise arrested.

Some even wonder if he is still alive.

He was called up

Ma's story is being investigated as part of The Real Internet Giants, a new two-part BBC Radio 4 series, presented by businesswoman Kathryn Parsons.

The founder of Alibaba had accused Chinese banks of operating "in-store sense". He also said the authorities were trying to "use the railway management system to manage the airport" when it came to controlling the new digital financial world.

The statements angered the establishment of the banks and reportedly reached President Xi Jinping.

Soon Ma and her close associates were summoned to a meeting with management, and Ant Group's plot was stopped.

Shares in Ma fall companies, downgrading about $ 76bn (£ 54bn) of their value.

After that meeting, Jack Ma was nowhere to be seen.

'Great Surprise'

"That day apparently crossed the invisible red line of what Xi Jinping's China can and does say," said Christina Boutrup, a Chinese commentator who had previously interviewed Ma.

"I believe it was a great surprise for him. You wouldn't have crossed that line if you knew how bad it could be."

Finally, on January 20, 2021, Ma reappeared in the form of a short video address for a charity event.

He was also spotted the following month playing golf on the hot Chinese island of Hainan.

"Obviously he was keeping himself very low, which is the best thing he could do," said Boutrup.

Comprehensive technology sector

The Chinese government is currently reviewing its approach to regulating tech giants, launching an anti-independence investigation into Alibaba.

And last week, one security agency said it had fined 12 companies - including Tencent and Baidu - for more than 10 agreements it said violated anti-monarchy laws. This could signal an increase in news across the broader technology sector.

China is facing an increasing international scrutiny from the US and elsewhere regarding its human rights policies in Hong Kong and Xinjiang.

The move to revive greater technological power is seen by some as an attempt to prioritize stability and control commercial success.

"There are [Communist] party committees reminding companies ... that the party is ultimately stronger, even more powerful than Jack Ma," said Samantha Hoffman, a researcher at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute.

This control extends to secrecy, he said.

"Not only is the company responsible for doing what the team wants, but they also have a responsibility to do so when asked.

But some have argued that it is wrong to judge Chinese giants on the same basis as those from developed countries.