Jack Ma, founder of Chinese e-commerce conglomerate Alibaba and Asia’s richest man, met with President of the United States Barack Obama during a secretive lunch at the White House on Tuesday, the Washington Post has reported.

A White House spokesperson confirmed that the two met but did not give any further information. Ma also refused to divulge details of the meeting and merely said it was “very good”. He was seen leaving the White House accompanied by two security guards and several assistants. The meeting was not listed on Obama’s public schedule, according to a Washington Post reporter.

Jack Ma. File Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

It is the first time that the pair have spoken since the APEC Summit last November. Earlier that year, Ma said that the US should stop worrying so much about China and focus on its own country instead, CNBC reported.

Ma overtook Wang Jianlin, founder of Dalian Wanda – China’s largest commercial property company – as the richest man in Asia last month. His wealth is estimated to be at US$33.3 billion, according to Bloomberg.

Barack Obama. Photo: Mikebrice via Pixabay.

On Wednesday, Ma cancelled a keynote speech he was due to deliver at an anti-counterfeiting conference in the US after the International AntiCounterfeiting Coalition suspended Alibaba’s membership last Friday – a membership that was only granted to the group in April.

Alibaba runs Taobao, an online shopping platform that has been plagued with counterfeiting accusations. The e-commerce group has been criticised for failing to step up efforts to prevent the problem, Reuters reported.

Karen is a journalist and writer covering politics and legal affairs in Hong Kong for HKFP. She has also written features on human rights, public space, regional legal developments, social and grassroots activism, and arts & culture. She is a BA and LLB graduate from the University of Hong Kong.