Wednesday Jan 20, 2021
The English teacher turned Chinese billionaire Jack Ma has made his first public appearance during a rural teacher-themed social welfare event via video link on Wednesday after months of disappearance.
Social media speculation over the whereabouts of China's highest-profile entrepreneur emerged earlier this month.
According to a news report published in the UK publication, The Telegraph, the business magnate was scheduled to appear as a judge in the final episode of his own talent show, ‘Africa’s Business Heroes’, but mysteriously did not turn up for it and as a consequence, his photographs were removed from the show’s website.
It was reported that Ma, who is known for his outspokenness and statements, came in conflict with President Xi Jinping-led Central Communist Party government.
According to the Chinese media reports, the Alibaba founder attended the Jack Ma Rural Teachers Award ceremony via video in which he met with 100 rural teachers from across the country.
In the 50-second video, Ma, dressed in a navy pullover, spoke directly to the camera from a room with grey marble walls and a striped carpet. It was not clear from the video or the Tianmu News article where he was speaking from.
He addressed teachers receiving the Jack Ma Rural Teachers Award, who in previous years would have attended a ceremony organised by the Jack Ma Foundation in the Chinese seaside city of Sanya.
"We cannot meet in Sanya due to the epidemic," he said in the speech, which did not discuss his whereabouts. "When the epidemic is over, we must find time to make up for everyone's trip to Sanya, and then we will meet again!".
The ceremony, which was previously held in Sanya, south China's Hainan Province each year, is an annual event launched by the Jack Ma Foundation in 2015.
It was the first time that the ceremony was organised online due to the on-going coronavirus pandemic.