Jack Ma was clearly absent from a list of top Chinese entrepreneurs released by state media on Tuesday, pointing out how much the iconic Alibaba co-founder has clashed in Beijing.
Ma, celebrated at home for founding some of his country’s biggest companies, did not feature a front-page Shanghai Securities News commentary touting major tech. Instead, the Chinese official newspaper touted rival Pony Ma as “rewriting the mobile age” with Tencent Holdings. BYD Co. chairman Wang Chuanfu, Xiaomi Corp co-founder Lei Jun, and Ren Zhengfei of Huawei Technologies Co. were also on his list.
The short editorial – which appeared on the same day as Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. must disclose profits – could help allay fears Tencent could be caught in a broader industry crackdown now focused on Ma’s Alibaba and Ant Group Co. Beijing has launched a campaign to reduce the growing power of private tech companies in almost every facet of Chinese life, as evidenced by the ubiquity of Tencent’s WeChat messaging service. Shares of Tencent and Xiaomi rose more than 2% on Tuesday.
Jack Ma’s absence is telling given that Shanghai Securities News is the most prominent business publication in Alibaba’s backyard. The billionaire made his first public comments in January since he disappeared from sight late last year, after his now infamous reprimand from Chinese regulators sparked a backlash that derailed the record public offering of $ 35 billion from Ant and launched an investigation into its e-commerce giant. Much about the future of China’s most recognizable and outspoken businessman remains unclear.
“A generation of Chinese entrepreneurs emerged from the rigid structures of our old economic system with the desire to escape poverty and the passion to achieve business ambitions,” the newspaper wrote, supported by the state-run Xinhua news agency. . “They have breathed new life into China’s economic reforms.”