That this question is trending online should be Xi Jinping’s nightmare
Over the years, Jack Ma cited any number of inspirations for his meteoric rise: Masayoshi Son, Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, martial arts novelist Jin Yong. Sadly, China’s most celebrated tech innovator may now be drawing on the lessons of exiled Russian businessman Mikhail Khodorkovsky.
Beijing’s boosters dismiss any suggestion Xi Jinping is cribbing from Vladimir Putin. The Russian leader, it is often said, runs not a country, but a giant gas station. As such, any suggestion President Xi’s Communist Party takes out oligarchs to settle scores is ridiculous.
The online flood of “where is Jack Ma?” inquiries challenges those denials. Speculation about the Alibaba founder’s whereabouts have some Sinologists exploring possible parallels between Ma and the Yukos oil company saga. Khodorkovsky’s empire was dismantled, and the billionaire imprisoned, when he flew too close to the sun in Putinland.
Was this Ma’s sin? Again, Team Xi insists a $35 billion share sale by Ma’s Ant Group was not torpedoed out of spite. Scrapping what would have been history’s biggest initial public offering was about curbing financial risk, or so goes the party line.