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To Pursue Philanthropy, Alibaba’s Chief Executive Jack Ma Steps Down

Ma is retiring as at a time when the China is embroiled in an escalating trade war with the US and the Chinese economy is facing slowing growth and increasing debt.

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Alibaba Cloud
The logo is displayed at the New York Stock Exchange, in New York. VOA

In a surprising move, China’s richest man, Jack Ma, has revealed plans to step down as the Executive Chairman of e-commerce giant Alibaba on Monday to pursue philanthropy in education, paving the way for a change of guard for the $420 billion Internet company that he co-founded.

Ma will turn 54 on Monday, which is also a holiday in China and known as Teacher’s Day.

In an exclusive New York Times interview, the Chinese billionaire said on Friday that his retirement was not the end of an era but “the beginning of an era”.

“I love education,” the Chinese billionaire said, adding that he would be spending more of his time and fortune focused on education.

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A former English teacher, Ma co-founded Alibaba with 17 others out of his apartment in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, in 1999.

He built it into one of the world’s most consequential e-commerce and digital payments companies, transforming how Chinese people shop and pay for things which fuelled his net worth to more than $40 billion, making him China’s richest man.

Ma is revered by many Chinese, some of whom have put his portrait in their homes to worship in the same way that they worship the God of Wealth.

Ma will remain on Alibaba’s board of directors and continue to mentor the company’s management.

The retirement makes Ma one of the first founders among a generation of prominent Chinese Internet entrepreneurs to step down from their companies.

alibaba
Visitors walk past a giant display at the Alibaba Group headquarters in Hangzhou, in eastern China’s Zhejiang province, May 27, 2016. VOA

Firms including Alibaba, Tencent, Baidu and JD.com have flourished in recent years, growing to nearly rival American Internet behemoths like Amazon and Google in their size, scope and ambition.

Last month, Alibaba reported a 60 per cent increase in quarterly sales, even as profits fell.

The company’s annual revenue totals about 250 billion yuan ($40 billion).

Alibaba has also changed the way people work in China. Millions of people now run their own shops selling goods on its Taobao ecommerce platform or stream their own videos on its entertainment platforms, The Financial Times reported.

Taobao is estimated to have created almost 37m jobs in China, according to a study last year by Renmin University’s School of Labour and Human Resources, the report added.

For Chinese tycoons to step aside in their 50s is rare; they usually remain at the top of their organisations for many years.

Alibaba
Ma is revered by many Chinese, some of whom have put his portrait in their homes to worship in the same way that they worship the God of Wealth. Flickr

In an interview earlier this week, Ma had signaled that he was thinking about focusing more on philanthropy. He cited the Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist Bill Gates as an example.

Also Read: Researchers In China Discover a Potential Antibiotic

Ma is retiring as at a time when the China is embroiled in an escalating trade war with the US and the Chinese economy is facing slowing growth and increasing debt, The New York Times report said. (IANS)

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Research Finds US Power and Influence as a Greater Threat than Russia and China

The list of countries most likely to view the U.S. as a threat is topped by two key allies in the Asia-Pacific: South Korea and Japan.

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US, Donald Trump
"The President is once again delivering on his promise to build the wall, protect the border, and secure our great country," White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said. VOA

More people around the world worry about the threat posed by the United States’ use of power and influence than they do about similar threats from Russia or China.

The finding, part of Pew Research Center’s Spring 2018 Global Attitudes Survey, found a median of 45 percent of more than 27,000 respondents in 26 countries view U.S. power and influence as a threat, compared to 37 percent for Russia and 35 percent for China.

The list of countries most likely to view the U.S. as a threat is topped by two key allies in the Asia-Pacific: South Korea and Japan.

Donald Trump, North Korea
FILE – A man reads a newspaper reporting on the summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, at a newspaper stand in Seoul, South Korea, June 12, 2018. VOA

In South Korea, 67 percent of respondents listed the U.S. as a threat. In Japan, it was 66 percent.

Mexico was third, with 64 percent of respondents calling U.S. power and influence a major threat. Previous Pew surveys found views of the U.S. in Mexico nose-dived following the election of U.S. President Donald Trump in 2016.

Data published by Pew in October 2018 found 6 percent of Mexicans expressed confidence in Trump’s leadership, due in part to strong opposition to his plans to build a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico.

In another four countries — Tunisia, Argentina, Brazil and Indonesia — more than half of the respondents viewed U.S. power and influence as a threat.

And 49 percent of respondents in France and Germany saw the U.S. as a threat.

Pew researchers call the increased wariness of the U.S. the biggest change in sentiment of all the threats tracked by the survey.

In 2013, about 25 percent of survey respondents from 22 countries saw U.S. power and influence as a threat. But by 2017, following Trump’s election, that had risen to 38 percent.

U.S. security policy under Trump has emphasized what officials have described as a new era of great power competition, labeling Russia and China top threats to the U.S. and the world.

Donald Trump, South Korea
In South Korea, 67 percent of respondents listed the U.S. as a threat. Pixabay

During his first day on the job, acting U.S. Defense Secretary Pat Shanahan said his top concern was, “China, China, China.”

But based on the results of the survey, many people around the world are not convinced.

Poland was the only country where more than half of the respondents saw Russian influence and power a major threat.

Respondents seem to be more worried about China, though only in four countries did more than half of the respondents see China as a danger.

A median of 82 percent of South Koreans surveyed viewed Chinese influence and power as a major threat, followed by 69 percent in Japan, 56 percent in the Philippines, and 51 percent in Australia.

In the U.S., 50 percent of the respondents viewed Russian influence and power as a threat, compared to 48 percent who felt the same about China.

Late last month, the U.S. intelligence community’s annual Worldwide Threat Assessment report warned of waning U.S. influence across the globe, even among allies, with Russia and China seeking to fill the void.

Many U.S. allies, the report said, are “seeking greater independence from Washington in response to their perceptions of changing U.S. policies on security and trade.”

ALSO READ: US Shutdown Averted, Border Deal Reached

The Pew survey of 27,612 people in 26 countries was conducted between May 14 and Aug. 12, 2018.

It listed the top perceived threats as climate change, the Islamic State terror group, cyberattacks and North Korea’s nuclear program. (VOA)