Jack Ma, the founder of Alibaba, made headlines when he was recently spotted at Yungu School in Hangzhou, where the company is headquartered. He had rarely made a public presence since he irked the Chinese Communist Party for criticizing the country’s financial regulatory system in 2020. “He described them as having a ‘pawnshop mentality,’ and that really ruffled a lot of feathers,” said Dexter Roberts, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council Indo-Pacific Security Initiative and author of The Myth of Chinese Capitalism. “Also, just the brash character of Jack Ma rubbed a lot of regulators and very powerful people in China the wrong way.”
Jack Ma wasn’t the first billionaire who mysteriously disappeared from public view. In 2015, Guo Guangchang, who is known as China’s Warren Buffet, went missing. The company later said he was assisting authorities with an investigation.
In 2017, Xiao Jianhua, a Chinese-Canadian billionaire, was abducted by Chinese security agents from Hong Kong. In 2022, he was sentenced to 13 years in prison for fraud and corruption. The mysterious disappearance of China’s billionaires hasn’t stopped yet. In February, Bao Fan, a renowned investor banker, became the latest name on the list of ‘vanishing billionaires.’ However, a few days later, his company said he was “cooperating in an investigation being carried out by certain authorities in the People’s Republic of China.”
“When someone like Bao Fan disappears, someone that high profile who suddenly vanishes without explanation, that inevitably sends a chilling kind of feel through the rest of the market,” said Nick Marro, lead analyst for global trade at the Economist Intelligence Unit. “I mean, how can you feel like you can do business in a place where, you know, an important leader of the industry can suddenly disappear?”
Watch the video below to find out the reasons behind China’s ‘missing’ billionaires and their ripple effects on China’s private sectors.
*China Now, keep you updated on China
*CNBC is an American basic cable business news channel and website owned by NBC.
*The above media report does not represent New Zealand Review’s opinion.