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Jack Ma, founder of Alibaba, teaches first class at University of Tokyo as he retires from internet empire.

Jack Ma, the founder of Alibaba, has given his first talk as a visiting professor at the University of Tokyo. The high-profile Chinese businessman is stepping back from his business empire after Beijing cracked down on him.

According to a statement released by the University of Tokyo on Friday, Ma gave a special two-hour seminar to students on the evening of June 12 about management philosophy and how they can achieve success. Previously, Ma had taught English before becoming one of China’s most successful business figures.

According to the release, Ma’s presentation was built on “his rich experience and pioneering knowledge of entrepreneurship and innovation,” which he shared with students from all around the world.

After publicly criticising Chinese regulators in a speech given in Shanghai in late 2020, Ma went into virtual obscurity as an entrepreneur.

Beijing cancelled his Ant Group’s record-breaking initial public offering (IPO), which would have been the largest stock offering in history, only days after his address. An unprecedented regulatory onslaught on China’s internet business and private sector was launched with this move, with a record $2.8 billion punishment levied against Alibaba Group for breaking antitrust rules.

Since then, Ma has reportedly kept a quiet profile, spending more time abroad in places like Hong Kong, Spain, and Japan, where he is close friends with SoftBank CEO Masa Son and where the latter is an investor in Alibaba.

Since Ma was seen as emblematic of China’s burgeoning spirit of enterprise, his whereabouts have been the subject of persistent speculation.

He went back to mainland China in March to back Alibaba’s historic plan to reorganise the company into six distinct divisions. Analysts say Beijing likely staged his return as a “planned media event” to calm concerns in the private sector, but it was more of a symbolic gesture.

This year, Ma has made more public appearances than usual, with a clearer emphasis on his scholarly and academic pursuits. In April, it was reported that Ma would be spending the next three years teaching business at the University of Hong Kong.

Ma started teaching at the University of Tokyo on May 1, and his biography indicates he would remain there until October 31.

According to a statement released by the Damo Academy, upon his return to mainland China after the seminar, Ma attended a mathematics event hosted by Alibaba’s research team in Hangzhou on Saturday. In a conversation with the winners of the International Mathematics Competition hosted by the Academy that Ma founded in 2018, Ma expressed his hope that the event will “continue to be creative, and bring in new forms of entertainment” to math enthusiasts throughout the world.

The private sector is more important than ever for Beijing to maintain development and generate new employment. There are a number of signs that the country’s economic recovery is slowing. According to official numbers released this week, retail sales and industrial production both fell short of expectations last month. The unemployment rate for people between the ages of 16 and 24 reached a new all-time high of 20.8%.

Xi Jinping and Premier Li Qiang are just two of the high-ranking officials who have tried to convince investors and business owners that China is once again a secure place to put their money. They have also made it easy for international corporations to set up shop there.

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