According to the Hong Kong-based daily newspaper – South China Morning Post (SCMP), Alibaba Group founder Jack Ma has been touring Dutch research institutions to further his interests in farm technologies. The report quoted sources with knowledge of the matter.
Since publicly criticizing China’s regulatory structure in a speech last year, the Chinese billionaire has largely remained out of the public eye. Following the speech, his business was quickly scrutinized by Chinese regulators, and his fintech subsidiary Ant Group’s $37 billion mega IPO was put on hold.
In October, Ma, once China’s most well-known and vocal businessman, returned to Hong Kong after which he had dined with at least “a handful” business associates, according to reports quoting information from sources.
He then went to Mallorca, Spain, where his luxury yacht is anchored, and this was also his first vacation overseas since a spat with Chinese officials, according to two Spanish publications last week.
Three images of Ma, sourced as handouts and dated Oct. 25, were released by SCMP, which is now owned by Alibaba. He was wearing a white safety robe and carrying flowerpots in two of them, while he was wearing jeans and a sweatshirt in the third and the caption indicated he was analyzing technology from BOAL Systems, an aluminum extrusion specialist.
According to the SCMP report, the Chinese billionaire will continue to visit European agricultural infrastructure and plant breeding enterprises and research organizations. Ma had stepped down as the chairman of Alibaba in 2019.
According to the sources who spoke to SCMP in the report, Ma believed that merging the technologies he investigated with Alibaba’s cloud computing, big data analysis, and artificial intelligence may help modernize Chinese agriculture.
Photos of Ma touring greenhouses in eastern Zhejiang province, where both Alibaba and Ant are based, went viral on Chinese social media on September 1.
Alibaba announced the next day that it would contribute 100 billion yuan ($15.5 billion) by 2025 in support of “shared prosperity,” becoming the latest corporate behemoth to back President Xi Jinping’s wealth-sharing agenda.
(Adapted from USNews.com)