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Jack Ma makes first public appearance in months in new video

Jack Ma just made his first public appearance in months as his tech empire continues to grapple with challenges from Chinese regulators.

The billionaire co-founder of Alibaba resurfaced Wednesday in a video published online by Tianmu News, a subsidiary of the Zhejiang government’s official newspaper. Zhejiang province is home to Hangzhou, the city where Alibaba is based.

Ma had not made a public appearance or social media post since late October, just over a week before Alibaba financial affiliate Ant Group was scheduled to list on Shanghai and Hong Kong stock exchanges. The IPO was blocked at the last minute by Chinese regulators, and his companies have since been targeted as part of an escalating crackdown on tech by Beijing.

In the video, which Tianmu News says was shot Wednesday morning, Ma is shown speaking to dozens of teachers in rural China for an award ceremony that coincides with the Chinese holiday the Laba Festival. Ma, a former English teacher, has made education a major priority for his foundation — and he has increased his philanthropic efforts in recent years after retiring from Alibaba.

“We’ll meet again after the epidemic is over,” Ma said in the video, telling the teachers that the traditional in-person celebration for the ceremony has been canceled because of Covid-19. 

The video posted by Tianmu News also shows footage of Ma visiting an elementary school in Hangzhou city earlier this month.

Alibaba’s Hong Kong-listed shares surged 6% after the video was published.

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