Alibaba’s Jack Ma is Communist Party member: state media–Nikkei Asian Review

What happened: On Monday, a list honoring contributors to China’s economic growth published by the People’s Daily revealed that Jack Ma had at one point joined the ranks of the Communist Party. While he has been described as such at official events, he had never publicly confirmed his Party member status before. The heads of Baidu and Tencent were also singled out for praise by the People’s Daily, although both were described as “nonpartisan.”

Why it’s important: An analyst cited by Nikkei suspects that China’s Communist Party outed Ma in order to “boost its own” brand. Ma has become something of a legend in his home country for his charismatic vision, business panache, and rags-to-riches story. The news that Ma is a Party member while his BAT counterparts are not, however, may surprise observers. Although he has been a party member since university, and similar but low-key announcements were made in 2015, both he and Alibaba have chosen not to make a big deal out his party affiliation.

Updated to include information about Ma’s previous membership in the party and previous public announcements of such.

Bailey Hu is based in China’s hardware capital, Shenzhen. Her interests include local maker culture, grassroots innovation and how tech shapes society, as well as vice versa.

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