The head and co-founder of ecommerce giant Alibaba has been confirmed as a communist party member by Chinese state-backed newspaper The People’s Daily.
- Mr Ma announced in September he would step down as Alibaba chairman next year
- He was previously believed to have no political ties
- Mr Ma will be among 100 people honoured by the CPC
Billionaire Jack Ma, 54, was previously believed to have no political connections, but the newspaper referred to Mr Ma as a CPC member as it announced plans to honour 100 people for contributions toward the country’s development as part of a celebration marking 40 years since the country’s economic reform.
“Under his leadership, Alibaba ranks among the top 10 global companies in terms of market value, making China a leading player in the international e-commerce industry, internet finance and cloud computing, spawning a large number of entrepreneurs and start-ups,” the newspaper said.
Mr Ma announced in September he would step down as Alibaba chairman next year.
His leadership of China’s most dominant online retail market has expanded the companies value to almost $540 billion.
Alibaba told Reuters via email that political ties of any executive “would not influence the company’s business decision-making process”.
“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 company said.
Mark Natkin, managing director of Beijing-based Marbridge Consulting, told Bloomberg that Chinese authorities were strengthening their relationships with the country’s leading internet companies as a way of realising policy initiatives.
“Being a party member is essentially tipping your hat to the legitimacy of the party and it doesn’t necessarily denote any particularly high level of political activity,” Mr Natkin said according to Bloomberg.
Also on the list of honourees were Pony Ma, chief of Tencent Holdings and Robin Li, CEO of Baidu.
Along with Alibaba, the three internet giants make up China’s top tech firms.