Chinese billionaire Jack Ma’s pit stop in Pakistan has created a stir. Ma reached Lahore after completing a short visit to Kathmandu. Ma was accompanied by a seven-member team of businessmen, from China, Denmark and the US. Two people India Narrative spoke to said that Ma could be looking at some “business opportunities” outside China.
The visit to Nepal and Pakistan cannot be construed just as a vacation, sources said. There is a possibility that he may be looking at setting up “some kind” of businesses in these countries or even get into joint ventures. Pakistan, which is battling one of its worst economic crises since independence, is desperately looking at boosting investments.
Though he avoided meeting government authorities or media persons in Pakistan, former Chairman of the Board of Investment (BOI), Muhammad Azfar Ahsan said it was a personal visit. Besides, sources said that Ma, the founder of Alibaba, could be looking at increasing his philanthropic activities in the cash strapped nation.
Ma and his associates arrived in Pakistan from Nepal via a chartered flight from Hong Kong’s business aviation sector, the Express Tribune said.
In February, Ma was seen in Australia after he ceded controlling rights to his Ant Group Co., fintech company.
Following an ugly face off with Chinese President Xi Jinping in late 2020, Ma has remained out of the limelight, maintaining a very low profile.
A Bloomberg report earlier said that Ma since late 2022 resumed globetrotting. He spent time in Tokyo and the Japanese countryside before making his way to Thailand. He was also seen in Hong Kong.
Ma, a former English teacher founded the e-commerce business Alibaba in 1999 when China had few internet users. He later launched online payments service Alipay, part of the Ant Group. Both companies grew to become the biggest in their industries.
“He went on to become a cult figure, people used to go mad when he appeared in public events, something that is not very common in China,” an analyst, who had been part of one of the Alibaba events a few years ago told India Narrative.
During his heydays, Ma was vocal about his opinions. He was also a strong critic of the regulatory process. The Alibaba founder used to regularly appear at public events and television shows unlike other Chinese entrepreneurs.
Source: India Narrative