For many years, the extremely successful founder of e-tailer, Alibaba, was the undisputed star of the Chinese economy. Until he became too powerful and inconvenient for the Beijing
regime, which began restricting his group’s financial scope and muzzling him. After a long period of invisibility, the 58-year-old has now reappeared: As a lecturer in agricultural
In reaction to severe political pressure, Ma resigned as Chairman of the Alibaba Group Holding in 2019. Earlier this year, he ceded control of the Ant Group, formerly known as Ant Financial, an affiliate of parent Alibaba.
It’s the people, not the resources
Now he has turned to a new and politically less conflictual field of activity: the agricultural sector. During a recent video presentation, Ma claimed that he had studied agriculture in different countries in recent times, and that the sector needs young talent in combination with advanced technology and scientific support in order to develop further. Ma said: “I found that a place that does well in agriculture is not necessarily a place with good resources, but a place with unique thinking and people with imagination.” He went on to say: “I hope that our rural schools will cultivate people who are full of imagination, unique thinking, and who dare to create the future. The rural areas do need technology, while I think unique thinking and creativity are important as well,” he exclaimed.
Rural education as game changer
And as an apparent peace offering toward the Xi Jinping regime, local observers even speak of a submission gesture, he added: “I can see that rural education and rural teachers are a huge force that can truly change the entire poor areas of China, as the sustainable development of our country is only possible through education reform,” Ma said, after 20 rural teachers had presented concepts how the Alibaba Foundation could improve rural education in various Chinese regions by funding promising projects. The foundation, jointly established by Alibaba Group and its subsidiaries, envisions three goals: rural revitalization, common prosperity, and preserve lucid waters and lush mountains.
From e-trader to scholar
Linked to his turn to the agricultural sector was his return to public life. Meanwhile, Ma gives lectures to professionals and at international conferences, and he has been awarded various titles by Chinese and international educational institutions. In JUN23, Ma conducted his first class at the University of Tokyo in his new capacity as visiting professor, reports Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post. That came two months after he accepted a three-year term as honorary professor at the University of Hong Kong, where he will focus on research in finance, agriculture, and entrepreneurial innovation.
Sounds like the beginning of a thrilling career which could lead to the creation of a new group called AliAgri.
Just musing, since the sky is Ma’s (only) limit!
We welcome and publish comments from all authenticated users.