Whereabouts of Alibaba founder and Chinese business magnate Jack Ma, who has gone missing after he severely criticized his country’s government, regulation system and state-controlled banks for their ‘backwardness’ in November, is becoming a source of hot discussion among international watchers with some fearing that the Chinese billionaire could be locked inside some isolated cell in China.

Their fear about the Alibaba founder’s fate has further darkened after the official Chinese People’s Daily newspaper said Jack Ma has been placed under “surveillance” at an undisclosed location, while the Bloomberg news said the Chinese billionaire has been asked by the government not to leave the country.

Jack Ma, one of the richest Chinese nationals, disappeared in November 2020 and was not seen in the public for weeks after his strong comments against the Chinese government, financial regulators and state-owned “interest-bearing” banks in a speech in Shanghai in October last year. Regarded as a role model for thousands of people across the world, he had called on the Xi Jinping government to make a system change that “would take away the efforts of bringing new things into business.”

Following his hard-hitting speech, Chinese authorities dealt Jack Ma a hard blow and suspended his $37 billion Ant Group IPO in November. As per a Wall Street General report, the order to cancel the IPO of Jack Ma’s Ant Group came directly from Chinese President Xi Jinping.

The Chinese state controlled media has now started saying that there would be no “Jack Ma era”, as China has entered a ‘new era’. The People's Daily Online stated: “Ma Yun is savvy, but without the support of national policies, Ali will not be able to become a trillion dollar business-empire and Ma Yun cannot have the influence and popularity today.”

According to the Asia Times, Jack Ma is not the only businessman who has disappeared from the public. Liu Qiangdong, also a famous Chinese billionaire and head of JD.com, has not been seen in the public for a long time. Liu’s company, in order to avoid its boss the fate of Jack Ma, has tendered apologies twice before the government and has changed the management of JD.com, yet there is no trace of his whereabouts.