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China crackdown risk roars back in probe of Jack Ma's empire

Bloomberg2/23/2022 10:48 AM GMT+08  • 6 min read
China crackdown risk roars back in probe of Jack Ma's empire
"Bottom line, this policy pivot is real."
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From Alibaba to Tencent, China’s largest companies are once again at the centre of a market storm, spurred by speculation that Beijing is readying another assault on the world’s biggest internet arena.

Three of China’s most valuable businesses -- Alibaba Group Holding, Tencent Holdings and Meituan -- have shed more than US$100 billion in the span of three turbulent days. It’s a remarkable reversal from just a week ago, as investors like Charlie Munger spotted bargains among China Tech Inc. after a US$1.5 trillion selloff in 2021. Macquarie issued a report this month headlined “peak crackdown.”

Now, investors are frantically attempting to parse a series of events that suggest Beijing is once more preparing to rein in its giant private sector. When Alibaba reports earnings Thursday, its executives will again face questions about Beijing’s intentions for a sector subjected last year to unprecedented regulatory curbs and punishments, after Xi Jinping’s administration launched a “common prosperity” campaign to curb tech-sector excesses and force them to share the wealth.

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