In a surprise revelation, China’s official party newspaper said that Jack Ma, the head of e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding is a Communist Party member. So far, the widely held belief was that Ma was politically unattached.
The People’s Daily on Monday revealed Ma’s Party membership in a list of 100 people it said had helped drive the country ‘reform and opening up’ process, a Reuters report said. Ma is China’s richest man with a fortune of $35.8 billion, according to Forbes.
Ma, who announced in September he would step down as Alibaba chairman next year, is China’s highest-profile business leader and China’s best-known capitalist.
Alibaba is a $390 billion giant, which dominates China’s online retail market, stretches from logistics to social media, and has spawned a separate fintech empire around popular payment platform Alipay.
ALSO READ: Infosys to create 1200 jobs in Australia
Alibaba declined to comment on Ma’s Party membership, but said political ties did not impact the firm’s operations. “Political affiliation of any executive does not influence the company’s business decision-making process,” a spokesperson said in emailed comments to Reuters on Tuesday.
“We follow all laws and regulations in countries where we operate as we fulfil our mission of making it easier for people to do business anywhere in the digital era.”
The People’s Daily list also included Baidu head Robin Li and Tencent Holding Ltd chief Pony Ma, though did not name either of them as Party members. Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent together make up the ‘BAT’ trio of China’s top tech firms, Reuters report said.
The paper did not say when Ma had become a Party member.