> China's best known capitalist is a member of the Communist Party. Jack Ma, the richest man in China, was outed by state media on Monday, that debunks a public assumption that Ma was politically unattached. Forbes says, Ma has amassed a fortune of $35.8 billion. He's also the outgoing head of e-commerce giant, Alibaba, and has a cult following over his success.
It's not clear why Ma's membership was revealed now, but Beijing is pushing to bring China's private companies more in line with party values, especially in a tech sector that's grown by leaps and bounds. In Reuters Breakingviews columnist Pete Sweeney's view, implying Ma is onboard with that effort may not be so easy.
>> It's difficult to understate the worship for this guy in China. I mean, there are people who have shrines to Jack Ma. In 2015, there was this viral video on Weibo showing Martians bowing to an image of Jack Ma before they went off to start this big shopping day.
You know, for somebody who's building a cult of personality around a political leader, it's kind of threatening to have the e-commerce Jesus Christ over here saying things. So some people were saying, well, Xi Jinping is going after the tech sector, and he's gotta take down Ma, he's too influential.
And for Ma's part, he can't afford to stand up and publicly become a dissident either. So they're kind of stuck with each other for the time being. It's a very uncomfortable relationship, I suspect, and it's probably gonna stay that way for a while. But for now, I think both need each other as much as much as they probably worry about each other's power and influence.
>> Ma, who announced in September he'd be stepping down as Alibaba's chairman next year, has acted as an advisor to political leaders in Asia and Europe, and fostered big ambitions in the United States. It's not clear when Ma had become a party member. Alibaba declined to comment on Ma's party membership, but said political ties did not impact the firm's operations.