Ma Ying Man will step down as president of his elite business academy, which he founded six years ago, according to people familiar with it, as Beijing tightens the billionaire’s influence in Chinese society.
People said that Hoopan University, which is an executive training program that seems to be just as difficult to get into as Harvard University, will also reorganize its curriculum and change its name.
Mai’s departure from the academy, based in his hometown of Hangzhou, comes as Chinese regulators put pressure on the founder of the Alibaba e-commerce group, his business empire.
Ma, one of the country’s top entrepreneurs, has largely disappeared from the public eye after a speech in October criticizing regulators and state-owned banks.
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The changes in Hupan suggest that Beijing’s efforts to limit Ma’s influence continue despite being an entrepreneur at this month’s Alibaba event.
One of Hupan’s relatives said that Ma would not have a high-ranking official position in the reorganized organization. But some people warned that Ma wanted to contact the school and could give lectures later.
Authorities were concerned that Ma was building a powerful network in Hupan that could run counter to the Communist Party’s goals, said a person close to the school. Some high-ranking Chinese officials see Hupan as a modern version of the Donglin Academy, a 17th-century educational institution that was the subject of debate for thinkers who influenced politics and weakened the Ming dynasty government.
Hupan was created to teach entrepreneurship, business management and corporate culture to a select group. “We want Hupan to run for 300 years,” Mann said in 2015 as he greeted the first group of students.
Last week, Hupan changed its name on its և social media account to Hupan Innovation Center. Videos on Chinese social media show a worker using a balloon to remove the name of Hupan University from a large stone sign in front of his university.
The name change is part of the government’s campaign to ensure that only licensed educational institutions can use the name “university”. Hoopan is not an official university.
A social media account called Xiake Island, run by the popular daily Daily, the Communist Party’s leading newspaper, sharply criticized Hupan and his students on Thursday.
China has “universities” of 1,186 companies, Xiake said in a statement. “Hupan University is in fact a private non-governmental organization, not a scholarship institution,” the post added, noting that “students’ attending such sites actually want to” join a group, make connections, receive funding. ”
It also criticized Hoopan’s role in promoting a group of peers who supported Hoopan’s student while his company was under government control.
“Ma should be separated from the organization, but there are concerns that Hupan may have problems attracting students if Ma leaves completely,” said one person. “The academy is popular because of him, not because of his curriculum.”
Ma’s profile picture on Hupan’s website has been changed to an audience photo.
Financial Times: reports last month, when the school suspended admissions for its new batch of freshmen.
Alibaba asked questions to Hupan, which did not respond to repeated requests for comment.
Additional report by Nian Liu in Beijing
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