Jack Ma, the billionaire founder of Chinese internet behemoth Alibaba, made his first public appearance in over two months in an online video on Wednesday, ending weeks of speculation about his whereabouts.
Ma — one of China's richest people with a fortune estimated at around £42billion ($58billion) — disappeared from the public eye in early November, when he was hauled in front of regulators for an October speech critical of China's outdated financial system.
Shortly afterwards, the record-breaking £27billion ($37billion) IPO of the 56-year-old's financial group Ant was spiked at the last minute by Chinese regulators in a shock move which some saw as retaliation for Ma's outspokenness.
But a video clip of Ma giving a congratulatory speech to rural teachers as part of an annual awards ceremony organised by his charity was published on social media by Chinese news outlet Tianmu News Wednesday morning.
In the speech, Ma praised China's poverty alleviation efforts, a …