Jack Ma reportedly visits school in Hangzhou after year’s absence from mainland China, as regulatory crackdown eases
Alibaba founder Jack Ma has returned to mainland China after more than a year of travels outside the country, according to a local media report.
Ma visited a school he founded in the city of Hangzhou and spoke with its faculty about the future of education in the era of artificial intelligence (AI), the Alibaba-owned South China Morning Post reported.
The report was later confirmed by the Hangzhou Yungu School, located in Hangzhou, on China’s east coast, near Shanghai, which posted images and a video of Ma at the school on its WeChat social media account.
“We must use AI to solve problems, not to be controlled by AI,” the school quoted Ma as saying.
He said technologies such as ChatGPT pose challeges for educators and that it is only the beginning of the AI era, according to the school’s statement.
Ma, who attended Hangzhou Teachers College and taught English in the city before founding Alibaba, has called teaching his favourite profession and said he wants to return to it one day.
His return to China followed a stopover in Hong Kong where he met friends and visited the Art Basel exhibit, the SCMP reported.
Alibaba’s shares in Hong Kong rose more than 4 percent following the SCMP report, before settling to close slightly lower.
Ma disappeared from public view for several months following an October 2020 speech in which he criticised China’s regulatory system, a move criticised as triggering a wide-ranging regulatory crackdown in the country.
His disappearance had raised concerns that he might have been placed under house arrest or otherwise detained – as has been the case with some other Chinese tech industry leaders in recent months.
He has since reportedly visited countries including Spain, the Netherlands, Thailand and Australia as he studies agricultural procedures and technologies, an interest of his since retiring as Alibaba’s chair in 2019.
The Financial Times reported that he spent six months of last year living in Japan.