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I wonder how long this Chinese tycoon will be seen in public?

Jack Ma, founder of Chinese e-commerce colossus Alibaba, might want to watch his back. An affiliate business of Alibaba, called Ant Financial, was due to float on the stock market last week but the IPO was suddenly pulled, leaving investment bankers who had underwritten the deal fuming. It also makes me wonder whether China’s President, Xi, is getting resentful about the power of the house that Jack built, so to speak.

Wall Street Journal has this story (item is paywalled, so here are four paragraphs):

Chinese President Xi Jinping personally made the decision to halt the initial public offering of Ant Group, which would have been the world’s biggest, after controlling shareholder Jack Ma infuriated government leaders, according to Chinese officials with knowledge of the matter.

The rebuke was the culmination of years of tense relations between China’s most celebrated entrepreneur and a government uneasy about his influence and the rapid growth of the digital-payments behemoth he controlled.

Mr. Xi, for his part, has displayed a diminishing tolerance for big private businesses that have amassed capital and influence—and are perceived to have challenged both his rule and the stability craved by factions in the country’s newly assertive Communist Party.

In a speech on Oct. 24, days before the financial-technology giant was set to go public, Mr. Ma cited Mr. Xi’s words in what top government officials saw as an effort to burnish his own image and tarnish that of regulators, these people said.

I would not be in the least surprised to see Jack Ma either end up as an exile in the West, or disappear.

As a media figure who works in the wealth management market, I often read reports about how China is kicking the West’s arse in generating gazillions of new billionaires. About how the country is overtaking the West, blah, blah. If that is the case, it is interesting that Chinese people try to get out, given half a chance, or suffer a worse fate. It is hard to see how a country that operates like this can really prosper in the long term, however mighty it looks now. People who fear that success makes them a target are not going to bother.

17 comments to I wonder how long this Chinese tycoon will be seen in public?

  • Autocrats grow uneasy at their very human weaknesses, often resorting to paranoia and sabotaging any other nexus of power outside of themselves. Only the armor of arrogance can overpower this natural outcome of autocracy but that comes with its own price. The only nexuses of power that remain outside of the autocrat are those that clothe themselves in sycophancy or are too subtle to be noticed by the autocrat, waiting patiently while sharpening their metaphorical knives.

    I suspect that that the Mao Dynasty is in its Autumn years, going to winter. As to what form the following dynasty takes I don’t know. Militant like the Shang or Tang dynasties? Cultural like the Ming? Commercial like the Southern Sung? Isolationist like the Manchu? Totalitarian like the Qin? Maybe in theocratic ways like the ancient Shiang, but with genetically modified Chinese ruling “benefictly” over the masses?

    This, as always, is just IMHO.

  • The Wobbly Guy

    I think it’s a bit too simplistic to say the Tang was militaristic or the Ming was cultural, as I’m sure you know. Each dynasty usually went though initial militaristic phases, then cultural, before regressing into some dead end.

    I happen to think the current ‘Zhōnghuá Rénmín Gònghéguó’ or Zhong Gong dynasty (won’t call it Mao cos many of his ideas have been discarded by Deng) is still on the ascending phase of its lifespan. It’s due for some real internal turmoil though, which every dynasty usually goes through as it proceeds from one phase to the next.

    Heck, even the Han and the Tang didn’t progress so smoothly from the 2nd to 3rd or 3rd to 4th Emperors. The Tang actually was ruled by a former female concubine who was the only female Emperor in all of chinese history, and built a ‘wordless’ monument in her wisdom to mark her reign.

  • Do the Chinese know Herodotus’ story about the tyrant of Miletus?

    Periander, tyrant of Corinth, sent a messenger to Thrasybulus, tyrant of Miletus, asking for advice on the art of ruling. Instead of replying, Thrasybulus led the messenger into a field of wheat, where he systematically struck off with his cane all the stalks that rose significantly above the general level. He then turned to the messenger and said, “Go – tell your master what you have seen.”

    The baffled messenger duly related the story to the tyrant of Corinth – whose rule then became significantly more tyrannical in the modern sense of the word.

    Less than a century ago, during the interwar years, a very sizeable percentage of UK school children were taught this snippet of history at some point in secondary school. Now they are taught other things.

    I wonder how well the incident is known in Hong Kong or China? Has Chinese culture any story with the same meaning as Herodotus’? Though he preferred his subjects not to know them, Mao himself knew many stories about emperors and mandarins and power, and sometimes quoted them as an indirect way of telling his entourage what he wished. But I’ve not come across that one.

  • John

    “The Tang actually was ruled by a former female concubine”.

    For Gods sake don’t tell Carrie, or Kamala.

  • Paul Marks

    Anti CCP dictatorship Chinese people were counting on President Trump winning – if ELECTION FRAUD brings Puppet Biden (and the pro People’s Republic of China Corporations he serves) to power then there is no hope for Chinese people, including in Hong Kong.

    There will also be increased People’s Republic of China pressure on Taiwan – and on the world general, including the West.

    Puppet Biden must not become President of the United States of America, and Kamala Harris must not become the Vice President of the United States of America.

    If they come into office the West is finished – the People’s Republic of China totalitarian dictatorship (which they serve) will dominate the world, with the full cooperation of “Woke” Big Business Corporations.

  • asiaseen

    I doubt that Herodotus’ story is well-known in either Hong Kong or China but I suspect Mr Eleven is familiar with it. The technique is in operation in HK right now.

  • The Wobbly Guy


    Biden may sell out, but he may just as well turn on the PRC.

    As for Kamala, she’s an unknown. She may very well play up to the stereotype of a typical unreasonable black woman against Xi, or she may play on her part-Brahmin ethnicity and agitate for closer ties with India.

    I don’t expect either one to get any traction against the technocrats of the PRC though.

  • Philippe Hermkens

    I live with a Chinese woman who is sixty five my age and a lawyer
    To think that the Chinese people want more freedom is stupid. They don’t like the actual corruption of the CCP They appreciate his nationalism and his handling of the economy

  • Paul Marks

    The Wobbly Guy – Mr Biden is not a free agent, he does what he is told.

    The Woke Corporations long ago decided that the People’s Republic of China with its totalitarian “Social Credit” system (electronic recording of everything people say and do – with rewards for “correct” thinking and punishments for dissent) are the model for the world. Facebook, Twitter and Youtube (Google) basically run this system already – even mild manned Tony Heller is no longer making Youtube films, in 2021 he will find that no platform will accept his work, and then he will find his bank account and payment services no longer work (quite legally – after all these are all “private companies”).

    Manufacturing is also to be based in CHINA (not the United States) – ordinary Americans and other Western people are to live on a “Basic Income” provided by government – as long as we are not “anti social”. As long as we obey the government bureaucracy and the Woke Corporations (which are joined at the hip) in every detail of our lives.

    So it is not a matter of Mr Biden “selling out” – in the end although he is more comfortable off materially he is just as much a slave as the rest of us will be.

    Senator Kamala Harris is must certainly NOT an “unknown”.

    Senator Harris as a deep HATRED of American principles – partly inherited from her father (a leading Marxist academic), but reinforced by her entire life’s work in politics.

    This lady is MORE Collectivist than the Senator Bernard “Bernie” Sanders – her voting record makes that very clear.

    To someone like Senator Harris the only good American is a dead American – and she really thinks the dead Americans are also no good.

    Bar a miracle these are the people who will be President and Vice President of the United States of America.

  • Paul Marks

    Think about it – the United States election has just been RIGGED, and very blatantly RIGGED.

    Nothing is going to be done about it (not really) and most media outlets just LIE continually. The FBI and so on do not fight the corruption – they are part of the corruption, on political grounds. They serve the Democratic Party and Progressivism generally.

    Is that so very different from the People’s Republic of China? In China everyone knows what the outcome of elections will be – and that is also now true of the United States of America.

    Mr Biden could not get more than a handful of people to his events – nor could Senator Harris.

    Yet they have “won” the election – according to the media, and according to the bureaucracy. If no one had voted them at all (if they had even forgotten to vote for themselves) they would still have “won” the election.

    Lastly – anyone who thinks other Western nations are in better shape than the United States, you are deluding yourselves.

    The West is finished (again bar a miracle) – there is only death now.

  • mongoose

    Paul, have faith, brother. Eventually we are too many and they are too few. It just takes time.

  • The Wobbly Guy


    Unfortunately, they are abt 50% of the voting population in the US and a whole lot of CCP members in the PRC, even if we shouldn’t count the whole PRC population.

    You may breed a bit more, true, but they control the commanding heights of academia, media, technology, and government. Even the upper echelons of the military is with them.

    You are badly outnumbered in spending power and economic output. There’s a reason why so many companies are selling out to China.

    Some ironies I would note: the PRC and the Dems are actually quite different ideologically other than the need for central political control. The Dems are economically crazier than the PRC. The PRC is definitely more pragmatic in terms of climate change, wealth inequality and academic foci. Socially more conservative too.

    It’ll be interesting to see what happens when the woke movement tries its shtick on the chinese. I’ll get the popcorn ready.

    In any case, while I favor more liberty rather than less, I’m actually pretty ok with the ascendency of the PRC if that really happens and it asserts its dominance. I (and my kids) have the right skin colour, near native command of mandarin, rather conservative beliefs – we’ll fit in like peas in a pod.

  • Paul Marks

    The Wobbly Guy – I suspect that the CCP will not continue to tolerate all the private business enterprises it now does.

    As you know, many times in Chinese history a dynasty has turned on the business enterprises it once allowed and taken them over. I believe history will repeat itself yet again.


    I hope you are correct.

  • Paul Marks

    One of the advantages if Chinese Civilisation over the West is that it collapses – but not totally.

    Total collapse is a Western thing – and happened most recently with the fall of the Roman Empire (there was the Bronze Age collapse before that).

    For those who say “there was no Dark Age – it was Late Antiquity”…..

    O.K. then – why can no family in Europe (not one) trace its line back to the Classical period?

    Even the oldest Royal houses in Europe can only trace their line back to the 8th or 9th centuries (our own Queen to the rulers of Wessex and Mercia – via the marriage of Henry the First to a descendant of Alfred the Great).

    There are many families in China who can do much better than that.

    Dynasties rise and fall – the civilisation itself, goes on.

    May the dynasty that is the CCP – fall soon.

  • The Wobbly Guy: I do simplify the nature of the Chinese Dynasties, focusing on their more famous aspects. I do love your name from my titular “Mao Dynasty”, it is more accurate, but few outside sinophiles and historians will recognize the context. The “Mao Dynasty” term is more understandable to larger amount of people. I won’t deny that Deng was truly more of the architect of this “dynasty” than Mao, as was one of the few “inner party” members to survive the Cultural Revolution and return to power.

    Paul Marks: my opinion of Ms. Harris has been stated here and elsewhere many times. For brevity I will restate my opinion of her: I have utter disdain of her character and her ability. It remains to be seen if her one redeeming trait, her loyalty to her party, will remain given her overweening ambition. I still believe that their “win” will be a political bloodbath between Jill Biden, Kamala Harris, and the Democrat Inner Party that will render all three factions near powerless and fresh meat for a GOP 2022 election cycle.

    I also would advise everyone of a phrase I believe Winston Churchill once uttered: “Defeat is never fatal and Victory is never final.”

  • Nicholas (Unlicensed Joker) Gray

    Paul, and others- the election could not have been rigged, or the Democrats would have won everywhere! The Senate and the House seem to be staying as they were. So it seems unlikely that the election was rigged, as this set-up means that the progressive program cannot be carried out!

  • Nicholas (Unlicensed Joker) Gray (November 17, 2020 at 6:57 am), what you say – that Trump has coattails like a winner and Biden lacks them like a loser – is better evidence for the opposite of what you think than for what you think.

    You are in the UK, like me, correct?

    Imagine a vigorous left-wing vote faking operation going on here – but only in some inner city areas, because it can only operate safely there.

    – If we had a country-wide prime-ministerial vote, separate from parliament, fake votes could make quite a difference.

    – In parliament, by contrast, it makes much less difference because it can only operate in very safe Labour seats. It could give Jeremy Corbyn a 99% majority but what’s the use of that. More dangerously, it could prevent such seats ever slipping out of Labour’s control again. But the manufactured votes cannot be exported across the constituency boundary, so they are not much use for deciding who is prime minister.

    – They could be useful in London’s Mayoral election. I would seek vote fraud there.

    The very existence of the word ‘coattails’ reminds us that, while mid-season elections trend against the president, the winner of a presidential election normally helps his down-ballot party colleagues. What you say makes one conclusion more probable in fact shows its opposite is more probable.