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Billionaire’s Rarotonga visit attracts widespread condemnation online

Thursday 9 March 2023 | Written by CI News Staff | Published in Business, National

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Billionaire’s Rarotonga visit attracts widespread condemnation online
Jack Ma, CEO of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, gestures as he speaks during his visit at the Vivatech startups and innovation fair, in Paris on May 16, 2019. (Photo by Philippe LOPEZ / AFP) (Photo credit should read PHILIPPE LOPEZ/AFP via Getty Images)

While Chinese billionaire Jack Ma’s visit to Rarotonga has attracted widespread attention and discussion - much of it has been negative.

Hundreds of people have jumped online with criticisms while others have been quick to respond in kind.

Cook Islands News Facebook page has been overwhelmed with response and the newspaper has sought comment from government.     

More than 600 comments were posted to our page.

“Racism is real.

“Some embarrassing comments here with little to no insight or care to who Jack Ma is, but rather just condemning him for being Chinese and wealthy,” one commentator said. 

Another called for Cook Islands News to be “sacked” . . . “Nevermind about the Chinese billionaire, let’s do reports on all the corrupted organisations we are seeing ripping us off; I hope he buys Cook Islands News first, if he’s here to buy an island or land or businesses, maybe he can do better.”

Another labelled the visit “evil, evil, evil”.

“Some rather racist closed minds surfacing here not even knowing your own Polynesian history of Chinese integration over millennia,” another said.

“The positive minded and business minded, will see this as one of the biggest most important unofficial visits by anyone that's visited our islands; locals should be out greeting and welcoming him with open arms.”

Cook Islands News has contacted the Prime Minister’s Office and the Secretary of Culture seeking comment on Ma’s visit and the subsequent reaction from the public on the social media. 

According to Forbes, Ma, a former school teacher, has a net worth of US$23.1 billion (NZ$37.2b) and is the 55th on the Forbes list of richest people and the fifth richest person in China.

Ma arrived on one of two private aircrafts at Rarotonga International Airport on Sunday.

Cook Islands News confirmed both left on Tuesday after staff at the airport said both planes flew in from Niue and were set to fly to Ecuador.

It is understood Ma’s small delegation has been on a tour of the Pacific, visiting the islands over the past few weeks.

The billionaire, who’s kept a low profile since Beijing in 2020 singled out first Ant Group Co. and then Alibaba for regulatory overhauls, has been meeting prominent figures based in Hong Kong in January this year, the Hong Kong Economic Times reported, citing anonymous sources.

The executive — among China’s most recognisable faces — has been on the move around the time signs emerged that Beijing was relenting in a campaign to curtail the influence and power of internet giants.

In January, Ma ceded controlling rights to his Ant fintech empire, which many observers took as a signal that punishing crackdown was nearing an end.

  • Additional reporting by Bloomberg

Comments

John Iorangi on 09/03/2023

Kia Orana, I don't blame those for the negative comments however, Jack Ma is a very successful business man, very humble and has set his standards to that of you and I. Read his story then you will understand how he got to when he is today. I Praise him for what he does best to help those in needy and I do hope you all see the other side of him, Kia manuia kotou i te Enua nei. John Iorangi