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Billionaire Alibaba founder Jack Ma makes first public appearance in three months
Jack Ma
Jack Ma Credit: JD Lasica (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0)

Jack Ma, the Chinese billionaire internet entrepreneur suspected missing, has made his first public appearance in three months. The short speech is Ma’s first public appearance since October 24 when he made a speech at the Shanghai finance forum. In the speech, Ma criticised Chinese financial regulation and called for reform.

Ma's low profile since, which included pulling out of his own show African Business Heroes, led to speculation that he was "missing."

Business • Markets
China pushes Alibaba founder Jack Ma to break up his fintech empire
Jack Ma
Jack Ma Credit: JD Lasica (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.0)

Chinese regulators want Jack Ma's Ant Group to go back to its digital payment roots, stating Ant's corporate governance was "not sound". The Ant Group started as Alipay, which became China’s largest digital payment platform, though it eventually expanded to offer investment and savings accounts and lending, insurance and wealth management services.

The latest salvo in Beijing's battle against Ma - who had been feted as China's greatest modern-day entrepreneur until he started speaking out against strict regulations - wiped 8% off the value of Alibaba's share price in Hong Kong trading on Monday.

In November, Chinese regulators blocked Ant’s $37 billion IPO just two days before dealing was due to begin in Shanghai and Hong Kong.

Regional News • Asia • China
More mass testing in China amid Covid-19 flare-ups in 3 cities
More mass testing in China amid Covid-19 flare-ups in 3 cities
Credit: unsplash.com / Macau Photo Agency

Chinese authorities have ordered mass testing of millions of people in three different cities across the country after multiple locally transmitted Covid-19 cases were discovered. New waves of infections are currently happening in Tianjin, Shanghai and Manzhouli.

Business • Markets
Ant Group's record IPO suspended in Shanghai and Hong Kong stock exchanges
Ant Group logo
Ant Group logo Credit: Ant Group

Ant Group’s record-breaking dual IPO has been halted. The decision comes after Ant executives—including Alibaba founder Jack Ma, who controls the fintech giant—were summoned to a meeting yesterday with Chinese regulators.

While the IPO had initially been given the all-clear, Shanghai has since determined that Ant Group may no longer qualify for a listing due to “information disclosure requirements” that it failed to meet, CNBC reports.

Ant Group, the parent company of Alipay—the world’s largest digital payments platform—said last month it planned to raise more than $34 billion for the IPO, which would have made it the biggest market debut in history.

Business • Economy
Disney to lay off 28,000 employees as Covid-19 affects its theme park business
Disney to lay off 28,000 employees as Covid-19 affects its theme park business
Credit: Joe Penniston (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0)

In a memo sent to employees on Tuesday, Disney announced it would lay off 28,000 employees across its parks, experiences and consumer products segment. Around 67% of the laid-off workers were part-time employees.

The company blamed prolonged closures and capacity limits at open parks for the layoffs. While Disney's theme parks in Florida, Paris, Shanghai, Japan and Hong Kong have been able to reopen with limited capacity, both California theme parks have remained shuttered.

Technology • Internet & Web
Douyin, the Chinese version of TikTok, reaches 600m daily active users
Douyin, the Chinese version of TikTok, reaches 600m daily active users
Credit: Douyin

The Chinese version of TikTok called Douyin has reached 600 million daily active users in August, so its parent-comapny ByteDance which also owns TikTok. While both apps are rather similar, Douyin also features e-commerce options, livestreams and uploads of full-length movies. During the Douyin Creator Conference in Shanghai, ByteDance China CEO Kelly Zhang stated that Douyin has over 22 million creators that made over 41.7 billion yuan (or $6.15b USD).

Transportation • Cars & Automobiles
Tesla announces it could probably offer fully autonomous self-driving vehicles by the end of the year
Interior view of Tesla Model 3
Interior view of Tesla Model 3 Credit: unsplash.com/David von Diemar

During the WAIC (World Artificial Intelligence Conference) in Shanghai Tesla CEO, Elon Musk, announced by video message that the automobile manufacturer could probably update their partly autonomous self-driving vehicles from Level 2 to Level 5 by end of the year.

Autonomous self-driving is divided into 5 levels. Currently, the most autonomous self-driving vehicles are shipped with Level 2 - 3.

Level 1 - Driver Assistance: for example using cruise control.

Level 2 - Partly Automated Driving: for example, the car can keep track, brake and accelerate on the freeway at the same time.

Level 3 - Highly Automated Driving: The vehicles can handle certain driving tasks independently and without human intervention, but only for a limited period and under suitable conditions.

Level 4 - Fully Automated Driving: The vehicles can drive independently, for example, the driver could take a nap but generally only in select conditions and on certain roads.

Level 5 - Full Automation/completely autonomous: no human driver is required. The people in the car become passengers.

Lifestyle • Travel
All Asia Disney parks have reopened after 4-month closure
Entrance of Disneyland Tokyo, Japan
Entrance of Disneyland Tokyo, Japan Credit: unsplash.com/Roméo A.

With the reopening of the Disney Resort in Tokyo, all of Disney's Asian parks have reopened as of July 1. Disneyland in Shanghai has opened its doors for visitors in May and Disneyland Hong Kong welcomed visitors back in June. Visitors have to follow social distancing rules and wear masks at all times. Disneyland Tokyo and Japan's DisneySea parks have introduced further safety guidelines such as mandatory temperature checks, advanced ticket bookings and no physical interaction with actors.