Jack Ma has resigned as president of a high school business business he founded six years ago, according to people familiar with the matter, as Beijing downsides the power that the billionaire has done among the Chinese people.
Hupan University, an academic program that is said to be difficult to enter at Harvard University, will resume its studies and change its name, people say.
Ma’s return to the school, which is based in Hangzhou, comes after Chinese officials pressured the founder of the ecommerce group Alibaba and its business.
Ma, one of the country’s most prominent businessmen, has been missing from the public since speaking in October criticizing regulators and state-owned banks.
Antitrust officials paid Alibaba good record $ 2.8bn in action last month and Ant Group, a fintech company, was ordered banning his business and redesign from $ 37bn initial public donations was broken last November.
Updates in Hupan show Beijing’s efforts to reduce the power of the Ma continue despite the businessman appearing publicly in Alibaba this month.
One person close to Hupan said Ma would not have a higher position in the reform organization. But several people warned that Ma was willing to stay in touch with the school and could talk in the future.
Officials are concerned that Ma is building a strong network in Hupan that could oppose the goals of the Communist Party, according to a man who was close to the school. Some Chinese authorities view Hupan as the modern textbook of the Donglin Academy, a 17th-century educational institution that was a center of intellectual controversy that affected politics and weakened the Ming Dynasty government.
Hupan was set up to train a business selection team, business management and corporate culture. “We want Hupan to run for 300 years,” Ma said in 2015, when he welcomed the first group of students.
Hupan last week changed his name from his website and TV station to Hupan Innovation Center. Chinese video footage also showed a worker using a blowtorch to remove the name of the University of Hupan from a large stone sign in front of his school.
The name change is in line with the government’s campaign to ensure that only institutions that have the right to use the name “university” are recognized. Hupan is not a recognized university.
An Xiake Island media report run by People’s Daily, a popular Communist party newspaper, criticized Hupan and his students Thursday.
China has 1,186 “universities” of companies, Xiake said. “Hupan University ‘is really a business management organization that does not do business on its own, not a degree school,” he added, noting that “students” who go to these areas want to “join the group, connect and make money”.
He also criticized Hupan’s role in promoting a peer group that supports Hupan’s student while his company is being monitored by supervisors.
“Ma should resign from the council but there is concern that Hupan may have a problem attracting students if Ma leaves completely,” said one person. “This school is famous for him, not his education.”
The Ma image on the Hupan page has been changed to a class image.
Economic Affairs reports last month when the school suspended enrollment in their new group of first-year students.
Alibaba offered questions to Hupan, who did not respond with repeated replies for comment.
Additional reports of Nian Liu in Beijing
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