Tencent boss Pony Ma unnoticed of China’s signature political gathering


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Tencent founder Pony Ma has been left off an inventory of delegates to China’s annual parliamentary session this week because the nation’s most distinguished tech leaders lose sway in Beijing.

His absence from the signature Nationwide Folks’s Congress is one other signal of adjusting instances for China’s entrepreneurs. The sidelining comes after China’s chief Xi Jinping consolidated energy final yr with a 3rd time period on the helm of the Communist get together and launched into a marketing campaign to restrict the affect of the nation’s rich elite.

Ma’s longtime rival for China’s tech crown, Alibaba founder Jack Ma, has largely disappeared from public view since criticising Chinese language regulators two years in the past and has not too long ago been dwelling exterior China, together with six months in Tokyo.

Tencent is China’s most respected firm by market capitalisation, with companies spanning gaming, ecommerce, social media and leisure. Ma stays its chair and chief govt.

Pony Ma’s absence from the NPC’s ranks, after two five-year phrases, follows different web titans’ departure from the Chinese language Folks’s Political Consultative Congress, an advisory physique that additionally meets ranging from the weekend. 

Robin Li, head of search big Baidu, William Lei Ding, founding father of gaming group NetEase, and Wang Xiaochuan, head of web portal Sogou, all stepped down as CPPCC delegates, as did China’s main enterprise capitalist Neil Shen.

Duncan Clark, founder and chair of Beijing-based consultancy BDA, mentioned that beforehand on the NPC Tencent’s Ma “may play the discreet counterweight to the brash, bold Alibaba Ma”.

“However then the entire tech sector got here into the federal government’s crosshairs. Given the development of the get together operating every thing, it doesn’t make sense to have such legacy figures in high-profile roles anymore,” he mentioned. 

Delegates to the NPC and the CPPCC are chosen each 5 years primarily based on candidate lists drawn up by the Communist get together, with these attending this month’s conferences set to serve at some point of President Xi’s third time period in workplace. 

“Re-election to the physique is a matter of public opinion,” mentioned a professor on the Central Get together College, the get together’s elite coaching establishment, who requested to not be named. “For Ma and the others it’s most likely that their affect and political standing has declined, resulting in them not being re-elected.”

Ma had served as an NPC deputy since 2013 and had used the platform to name for tighter regulation of web companies reminiscent of his personal in 2021 as Beijing’s tech crackdown was gaining steam. 

Among the many ranks of just about 3,000 NPC delegates are many executives and engineers from China’s tech trade, together with semiconductor and synthetic intelligence corporations. 

Liu Qingfeng, chair of iFlytek, {a partially} state-owned AI group, has served on the NPC for greater than 20 years and was re-elected to a different time period this yr. Lei Jun, head of phonemaker Xiaomi, can also be serving for a 3rd time period.

Zhang Suxin, chair of contract chipmaker Hua Hong Semiconductor, was additionally newly elected to the NPC. 

Different newcomers to the ranks of delegates hail from sectors that Beijing is set to strengthen amid rising technological rivalry with Washington.

Guo Huiqin, an engineer at China’s largest chipmaker Semiconductor Manufacturing Worldwide Corp, mentioned she hoped to focus “on breakthroughs” in technological areas the place the west had a chokehold on China’s improvement. 

“We have to uphold the get together’s management . . . [and] we’d like self-reliance and self-improvement in science and know-how,” Qi Xiangdong, a newly elected delegate to the CPPCC and head of cyber safety group QAX, advised native media.

Tencent didn’t reply to a request for remark.

Extra reporting by Cheng Leng in Hong Kong and Nian Liu in Beijing


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