Billionaire and Alibaba founder Jack Ma has been living in Japan for six months during the time the Chinese communist regime cracked down on his business empire.
According to the Financial Times, China’s once most wealthy man has been in Tokyo with his family. Ma spent time there for both business and pleasure, visiting hot springs and ski resorts and traveling to the U.S. and Israel.
In Tokyo, Ma has been a member of private clubs for wealthy Chinese in Japan located in the heart of Tokyo’s Ginza district. Ma has kept a low profile there, bringing with him his personal chef and security and becoming an enthusiastic collector.
Jack Ma has disappeared from the public eye since he openly criticized the Chinese financial system in 2020, calling regulators short-sighted with a “pawnshop mentality.”
His criticism has landed him in trouble with Beijing since then. The regime has targeted and cracked down on his two firms, e-commerce giant Alibaba and fintech Ant Group, following the expansive regulatory crackdown on the tech sector in the country.
Chinese regulators derailed the initial public offering of fintech giant Ant Group worth $35 billion, which would have been the world’s biggest IPO. They also fined Alibaba a record 2.8 billion last year for antitrust violations.
Since then, Ma’s public appearances have been closely watched. He has been spotted in Spain and the Netherlands.
As part of the tech crackdown, Beijing reportedly asked Alibaba to sell some of its media assets, including the South China Morning Post.
Ma became China’s richest man as his stock price reached a high point in 2020 and has now fallen out of the top 50 in the Forbes billionaire rankings. According to Forbes’ data, Ma is ranked 56th on the world’s wealthiest people list with $22.1 billion.
As Hong Kong’s stock market plummeted to a record low last month, Alibaba stock reportedly lost around 77% in two years, wiping out $637 billion in market value.