Chinese tech billionaire and the founder of Alibaba, Jack Ma, has vanished from the public eye for over two months. This came after Ma's conflict with President Xi Jinping-led Central Communist Party government.
Alibaba's founder was set to appear as a judge in the final episode of his own talent show, 'Africa's Business Heroes', but mysteriously did not turn up due to his "hectic schedule". After which his photographs were removed from the show's website which raised eyebrows.
The 'Africa's Business Heroes' show gives budding African entrepreneurs the chance to compete for a slice of US $1.5 million.
The mystery deepens as the Chinese authorities are tightening grip over his business empire, including the Ant Group, allegedly after in response to his criticism against China's regulation system last October.
What did Jack Ma say to anger Xi Jinping's Govt
One of China's unusually vocal and outspoken tycoons, Ma flayed the CCP government's 'pawnshop' financial regulators and state-owned banks in an incendiary speech in Shanghai back in October.
In October Jack Ma said, "Mortgages and guarantees are for a pawnshop, but if we go to extremes in relying solely on collateral assets, certain enterprises will pledge all of their assets, and the pressure [for them] is enormous,"
The speech angered the Chinese government, which viewed Ma's criticisms as an attack on the authority of the Communist Party, and led to its extraordinary clampdown on Ma's business activities.
"Due to a schedule conflict Mr Ma could no longer be part of the finale judge panel of Africa's Business Heroes earlier this year (2020)," an Alibaba spokesperson said.
Alibaba faces scrutiny from Chinese Govt
In November, officials in Beijing reprimanded Ma and suspended the blockbuster $37billion initial public offering of his Ant Group on the direct order of President Jinping, the Wall Street Journal reported.
China launched an investigation into Alibaba Group for suspected monopolistic behaviour and summoned its Ant Group to meet in coming days, regulators said.