Jack Ma travels abroad for the first time in more than a year to study agriculture

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Jack Ma has been largely keeping a low profile and has made very few appearances in mainland China since Beijing came down heavily on his empire after he criticised China’s regulatory policies (Getty Images)
Jack Ma has been largely keeping a low profile and has made very few appearances in mainland China since Beijing came down heavily on his empire after he criticised China’s regulatory policies (Getty Images)

Chinese billionaire Jack Ma is in Europe in his first foreign trip since he disappeared from the public eye last year when his troubles with the government in China began.

Ma was recently spotted in Spain, in what is believed to be a study tour for agriculture and technology related to environmental issues, the South China Morning Post reported, citing a source who knew his itinerary.

This is the first foreign trip for the founder of e-commerce giant Alibaba since his scathing comments on China’s regulators got him into trouble with authorities last year, with his company facing several enquiries and setbacks in the aftermath.

Ma will reportedly hold a series of business meetings during his stay in Europe. However, the company has not confirmed any details yet, SCMP, which is owned by Alibaba, reported.

He was last spotted in Hong Kong earlier this month.

The recent sightings of the former chairman of Alibaba have helped boost investor sentiments in the company as his company’s stock surged by over 6 per cent on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange on Wednesday. The company’s stocks rose around 18 per cent overall in the month of October as investors look at Ma’s appearance as a sign of receding troubles for Alibaba.

Ma was lying low as Alibaba went through a turbulent year amid Beijing’s clampdown against his empire after he criticised China’s regulatory policies.

In April, a massive $2.75bn (£2.1bn) fine for monopoly violations was imposed on the company.

In November last year, a mega Initial Public Offering by Ma’s Ant Group was also suspended by Chinese authorities just days before its trading debut. Later on, the company also shelved a share buyback programme.

These actions followed after the business tycoon, last October, called for reforms in the Chinese financial system in front of a Shanghai audience. The Alibaba founder who stepped down as chairman in 2019, was spotted in only two company events after that and kept a low profile.

Alibaba has since then attempted to mend relationships with the Chinese government by backing their policies and investing in nationalistic films.

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