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Xi needs to explain his Big Tech squeeze

As Xi Jinping’s widening tech crackdown generates global headlines, the Chinese president risks making Jack Ma’s point.

Talk, as they say, is cheap. Alibaba Holdings founder Ma, China’s best-known entrepreneur, may have a more nuanced take on this age-old maxim in the months since his now-infamous October 24 Shanghai speech.

At the time, Ma’s fintech giant Ant Group was days away from pulling off history’s biggest initial public offering (IPO). That US$37 billion listing planned in Shanghai and Hong Kong had Wall Street looking on with envy.

But Ma’s blunt critiques of mainland regulators and banks put everything on ice. Saying China’s banking system is run by “old men” who “still have a pawnshop mentality,” he accused regulators of not understanding the internet.