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Does Alibaba's Jack Ma Need To Better Watch What He Says?

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Does Alibaba's Jack Ma Need To Better Watch What He Says?

Whether it is justified or not, business leaders in Western countries have the freedom to exclaim their company is more powerful than nation states. But in China doing so may be viewed as crossing the red line, the most recent example being Alibaba Group Holding Ltd (NYSE: BABA)'s founder and chairman Jack Ma, Bloomberg reported.

Ma told Alibaba's investors during a presentation day last week his vision, a vision in which he believes the company would rank as the world's fifth largest economy, trailing just the U.S., China, Europe and Japan. The Chinese e-commerce behemoth expects to serve 2 billion customers across the world through a platform of 10 million small businesses.

'Master In The Dark Arts Of Influence'

In China, business leaders need to "be careful not to outshine the government," Bloomberg noted. But Ma has a track record of doing exactly that.

For example, when China introduced its One Belt, One Road project, Ma made it clear Alibaba already services those regions. When China's leader Xi Jinping implored global leaders to embrace global trade in Davos, Ma pointed out his company already has a web-based version of the World Trade Organization.

Perhaps Ma is exactly what the Chinese economy needs, even if it goes against unwritten government rules. Ma is a "rebel fighting the system" by knocking down walls in China while protecting state-owned enterprises — and making himself a billionaire along the way.

Ma could be viewed as a "master in the dark arts of influence," the Bloomberg report concluded. This would make him more of a "savvy politician" and not necessary a "libertarian icon."

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Jack Ma: Society Will See 'Much More Pain Than Happiness' Over The Next 30 Years
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Image Credit: Screengrab of Jack Ma, World Economic Forum [CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

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