HONG KONG, China: Jack Ma, founder of Chinese tech giant Alibaba, has been made an honorary professor of business at a top Hong Kong university, the school announced on April 21.
The appointment comes weeks after the billionaire made a rare public appearance in China following his fall from grace during a government crackdown on the tech industry over two years ago.
Ma has kept a low profile since late 2020, when a speech he made attacking Chinese regulators was followed by Beijing pulling the plug on a planned IPO by Alibaba affiliate Ant Group.
A record fine of US$2.75bil was later imposed on Alibaba for alleged unfair business practices.
The University of Hong Kong on Friday said Ma had accepted an honorary professorship from its business school.
A spokesperson for the institution said it welcomed Ma sharing “his rich knowledge and experience in business innovation and development”.
The professorship carries a three-year term ending in March 2026, according to local media.
The school’s website now contains a profile of Ma highlighting his expertise in “management and strategy”.
In 2018 the same university awarded Ma an honorary doctorate.
However, Ma has “no plans for public lectures or speeches”, according to the South China Morning Post, a Hong Kong-based English-language newspaper wholly owned by Alibaba.
The Jack Ma Foundation, a charitable organisation set up by the billionaire in 2014, told the Post that “after a hiatus from the world of education, Mr Ma looks forward to returning to campus life”.
Ma previously taught English for eight years at Hangzhou Dianzi University in the eastern Chinese province of Zhejiang before he launched Alibaba.
He also founded in 2015 a centre for entrepreneurship in Zhejiang along with several Chinese business heavyweights.
That institution was originally called Hupan University but had the term “university” removed from its name in 2021 amid Ma’s spat with Chinese authorities.
Ma has been spotted in a number of locations around the world over the past two years, including on the Spanish island of Mallorca, and was reportedly living in Japan for much of 2022. – AFP