Jack Ma Meets With Students In Japan, China

Jack Ma at Alibaba Global Mathematics Competition in Hangzhou. Image credit: Weibo

Aliababa founder Jack Ma makes rare public appearances in Tokyo, Hangzhou as China seeks to get economy back on track

Alibaba founder Jack Ma has made rare public appearances in Tokyo and Hangzhou, China, where he chatted with some of the finalists of a global mathematics competition he started in 2018.

Ma gave his first lecture as a visiting professor at the University of Tokyo, teaching students at a two-hour seminar on the evening of Monday, 12 June, where he spoke about management philosophy and how to achieve success, the university said in a statement on Friday.

The talk to students from Japan, China, India, Malaysia and elsewhere was based on “his rich experience and pioneering knowledge of entrepreneurship and innovation”, the university said.

On Saturday Ma attended the competition in Hangzhou, where Alibaba is headquartered, organised by the company’s research unit Damo Academy, and discussed the “understanding of mathematics” with finalists of the 2023 Alibaba Global Mathematics Competition.

Jack Ma interacts with finalists of annual Alibaba maths competition. Image credit: Weibo
Jack Ma interacts with finalists of annual Alibaba maths competition. Image credit: Weibo

Public appearance

The trip follows an earlier appearance in Hangzhou in March when he visited a local school jointly funded by partners of Alibaba.

Ma, once one of China’s highest-profile and most outspoken public figures, practically disappeared from view starting in early 2021, at a time when comments he made in October 2020 sparked a backlash against his companies that turned into a major crackdown on the country’s high-tech sector.

The government’s moves included scrapping a planned IPO of Ma’s Ant Group that was expected to be the biggest in world history, and levying a record $2.8 billion (£2.2bn) fine on Alibaba Group for breaking antitrust rules.

Ma reportedly spent more time outside of China during the crackdown, including periods in Spain, Thailand and Japan.

Economic confidence

This year he has been more visible to the public, in a move considered to have been coordinated with the Chinese government as it seeks to boost confidence in the tech sector and the wider economy and attract investment.

In April the University of Hong Kong said Ma would join its business school for the next three years.