African Children Will Make Up ‘Half of World’s Poor’ by 2030

African children are being left further and further behind and will make up more than half of the world’s poor by 2030, according to a new report.

The stark warning comes as more than 150 world leaders prepare to attend the U.N. Sustainable Development Summit in New York beginning Sept. 25 to work on tackling global poverty.

The United Nations has agreed on 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). No. 1 on the list is eradicating extreme poverty by 2030. But the world will fall well short of that target, according to the report by Save the Children and the Overseas Development Institute, which delivers a devastating verdict on global efforts to eradicate extreme poverty among children in Africa.

“On our projection, children in Africa will account for around 55% of all extreme poverty in the world by 2030,” said Kevin Watkins, chief executive of Save the Children UK.


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An estimated 87 million African children will be born into poverty each year in the 2020s, according to the report, which also says about 40% of Africans still live on less than $1.90 a day.

“On average, women are still having four to five children, and it’s the part of the world where poverty is coming down most slowly, partly because of slow growth but also because of very high levels of inequality,” Watkins said. “A child born into poverty faces greater risks of illiteracy; greater risks of mortality before the age of 5. They’re between two and three times more likely to die before their fifth birthday. They are far less likely to escape poverty themselves, which means that they will become the transmission mechanism for poverty to another generation.”

A child, who fled with others from his village in northern Burkina Faso following attacks by assailants, eats inside a school on the outskirts of Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, June 15, 2019.

The report criticizes African governments for failing to develop coherent policies, and also warns that the IMF, the World Bank and other donors are failing in their response.

Watkins said dramatic changes in approach are urgently needed.

“Transferring more monetary resources to children who are living in poverty has to be part of the solution,” Watkins said. “But we also know that money is not enough. It’s critically important that these children get access to basic nutritional services, the basic health interventions, and the school systems that they need to escape poverty.”

The report warns that if poverty reduction targets are not met, the world will also fall short on other sustainable development goals in education, health and gender equality.

Imelda’s Deluge Won’t Let Up Over Texas And Louisiana

Rain from Tropical Depression Imelda was still deluging parts of Texas and Louisiana on Thursday. Forecasters warned of life-threatening flash floods as an additional five to 10 inches falls through Friday, and predicted even “25 to 35 inches” in some places as the system moves slowly over the area.
 
Glenn LaMont, deputy emergency management coordinator in Brazoria County, south of Houston along the Gulf Coast, said he had seen no reports of flooded homes or people stranded despite heavy rainfall as of late Wednesday, but cautioned: “It’s too early to breathe a sigh of relief.”

Most of the heaviest showers had moved to the east of Houston, into Beaumont, Texas, and southwestern Louisiana, by Wednesday evening, but the storm’s remnants spawned several weak tornadoes in the Baytown area, about 25 miles (40 kilometers) east of Houston, damaging trees, barns and sheds and causing minor damage to some homes and vehicles.

Forecasters said the Houston area could still face some heavy rainfall on Thursday, even as the system’s center shifted to about 110 miles (180 kilometers) north of the city, moving north-northwest at 5 mph (7 kph).

Parts of East Texas could get up to 10 inches (254 millimeters) of rain through Thursday morning as the remnants of Imelda continue moving north and away from Houston, according to the National Weather Service.

Coastal counties, including Brazoria, Matagorda and Galveston, got the most rainfall so far. Some parts of the Houston area had received nearly 8 inches (203 millimeters) of rain, while the city of Galveston, which had street flooding, had received nearly 9 inches (229 millimeters), according to preliminary rainfall totals released Wednesday afternoon by the National Weather Service.

Sargent, a town of about 2,700 residents in Matagorda County, had received nearly 20 inches (508 millimeters) of rain since Tuesday.

Karen Romero, who lives with her husband in Sargent, said this was the most rain she has had in her neighborhood in her nine years living there.

“The rain (Tuesday) night was just massive sheets of rain and lightning storms,” said Romero, 57.

She said her home, located along a creek, was not in danger of flooding as it sits on stilts, like many others nearby.

In the Houston area, the rainfall flooded some roadways, stranding drivers, and caused several creeks and bayous to rise to high levels.

Many schools in the Houston and Galveston area canceled classes Wednesday. However, the Houston school district, the state’s largest, remained open. At least one school district Galveston said it was also canceling classes on Thursday.

The National Hurricane Center said Imelda, weakened after a tropical depression after making landfall Tuesday near Freeport, Texas, with maximum sustained winds of 40 mph (64 kph).
 
The weather service said Imelda is the first named storm to impact the Houston area since Hurricane Harvey dumped nearly 50 inches (130 centimeters) of rain on parts of the flood-prone city in August 2017, flooding more than 150,000 homes in the Houston area and causing an estimated $125 billion in damage in Texas.

‘Deeply Sorry’ Trudeau Begs Forgiveness for Brownface Photo

Canadian leader Justin Trudeau’s campaign moved to contain a growing scandal Thursday, following the publication of a yearbook photo showing him in brownface makeup at a 2001 costume party. The prime minister apologized and begged Canadians to forgive him.

Time magazine published the photo on Wednesday, saying it was taken from the yearbook from the West Point Grey Academy, a private school in British Columbia where Trudeau worked as a teacher before entering politics. It depicts the then 29-year-old Trudeau wearing a turban and robe, with dark makeup on his hands, face and neck.

Trudeau, who launched his reelection campaign exactly one week ago, said he should have known better.

“I’m pissed off at myself, I’m disappointed in myself,” Trudeau told reporters traveling with him on his campaign plane.

The Canadian prime minister is but the latest politician to face scrutiny over racially insensitive photos and actions from their younger days. Earlier this year, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam faced intense pressure to resign after a racist picture surfaced from his 1984 medical school yearbook page. He denied being in the picture but admitted wearing blackface as a young man while portraying Michael Jackson at a dance party in the 1980s. Since then, Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring has acknowledged wearing blackface in college, and Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey has publicly apologized for donning blackface during a college skit more than 50 years ago. None has resigned.

The photo of Trudeau was taken at the school’s annual dinner, which had an “Arabian Nights” theme that year, Trudeau said, adding that he was dressed as a character from “Aladdin.” The prime minister said it was not the first time he has painted his face; once, he said, he performed a version of Harry Belafonte’s “Banana Boat Song (Day-O)” during a talent show.

“I should have known better then but I didn’t, and I am deeply sorry for it,” Trudeau said. “I’m going to ask Canadians to forgive me for what I did. I shouldn’t have done that. I take responsibility for it.  It was a dumb thing to do.”

He said he has always been more enthusiastic about costumes than is “sometimes appropriate.”

“These are the situations I regret deeply,” Trudeau added.

The prime minister, who champions diversity and multiculturalism, said he didn’t consider it racist at the time but said society knows better now.

The photo’s publication could spell more trouble for Trudeau, who polls say is facing a serious challenge from Conservative leader Andrew Scheer.

Trudeau has been admired by liberals around the world for his progressive policies in the Trump era, with Canada accepting more refugees than the United States. His Liberal government has also strongly advocated free trade and legalized cannabis nationwide.

But the 47-year-old son of late Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau was already vulnerable following one of the biggest scandals in Canadian political history, which arose when Trudeau’s former attorney general said he improperly pressured her to halt the criminal prosecution of a company in Quebec. Trudeau has said he was standing up for jobs, but the scandal rocked the government and led to multiple resignations earlier this year, causing a drop in the leader’s poll ratings.

Following the release of the brownface photo, Trudeau said he would talk to his kids in the morning about taking responsibility.

His quick apology did not stem the criticism from political opponents, who took the prime minister to task for what they said was troubling behavior.

“It is insulting. Any time we hear examples of brownface or blackface it’s making a mockery of someone for what they live, for what their lived experiences are. I think he has to answer for it,” said Leftist New Democrat leader Jagmeet Singh, a Sikh who wears a turban and the first visible minority to lead a national party.

Scheer, the opposition Conservative leader, said brownface was racist in 2001 and is racist in 2019.

“What Canadians saw this evening was someone with a complete lack of judgment and integrity and someone who is not fit to govern this country,” Scheer said.

Robert Bothwell, a professor of Canadian history and international relations at the University of Toronto, said he was “gobsmacked” at the development and wondered how it would land in Parliament and with voters.

“We’ll just have to see how the party reacts,” he said. “I’m very curious to know how Liberal members of Parliament that are black will react.”

He added: “The case has never been conclusively made that Justin is a person of substance. I mean he may well be. But that impression is just not out there.”  

How the scandal will affect Trudeau’s campaign remains in question. Nelson Wiseman, a political science professor at the University of Toronto, said he didn’t think the photo’s release would cause people to vote differently. Wiseman said race and blackface play a much bigger role in U.S. politics than in Canada.

“I don’t think this will swing the vote, although the story will get a lot of media play for a couple of days,” Wiseman said.  “The Liberals may very well lose the election — they almost certainly will not do as well as in 2015 — but this is not the type of scandal that will drive voters to the Conservatives.”

 

Trump Makes His Mark on Signature Border Wall Project

The border wall literally became President Donald Trump’s signature project Wednesday.

Trump used a permanent marker to sign a new portion of the rust-colored metal barrier, reinforced with concrete and rebar, rising as high as 9 meters at Otay Mesa, a suburb of San Diego that separates California from Tijuana, Mexico.

“It is really virtually impenetrable,” Trump declared.

“There are thousands of people over there that were trying to get in” before this portion of the barricade went up, said Trump, who described the work he inspected Wednesday afternoon as “pretty amazing.”

“The wall does not answer the crisis at the border today,” said Muzaffar Chishti, director of the New York office of the nonpartisan Migration Policy Institute. “The situation at the border today is not people sneaking in. The crisis at the border today is asylum-seekers showing up and voluntarily turning themselves in to the Border Patrol.”

Migrants, many who were returned to Mexico under the Trump administration’s “Remain in Mexico” program, wait in line to get a meal in an encampment near the Gateway International Bridge in Matamoros, Mexico, Aug. 30, 2019.

Limiting arrivals

Chishti told VOA that the near-total ban on asylum implemented via administrative regulation, along with the “Migrant Protection Protocol” and metering of asylum claims at ports of entry, will have far more to do with limiting arrivals than will the wall.

The president told reporters that up to 800 kilometers of border wall, about 1 meter thick, was under construction, but that it was premature to end the national emergency he declared in response to attempts by migrants to illegally cross the border from Mexico.

“I think really the success is going to be when the wall’s built, when human traffickers can’t come through,” Trump said. “This is certainly a tremendous national emergency.”

U.S. Army troops stationed at the border would eventually be drawn down and replaced with Border Patrol agents as the wall goes up, the president said.

Trump, asked about his repeated vow that Mexico would pay for the wall, said Wednesday at Otay Mesa that “they’re paying for 27,000 soldiers, as you know,” on the Mexican side, thwarting border-crossing.

“If I took 5% tariff for six months, that pays for the wall,” Trump said of products from Mexico, quickly adding he did not want to do that because of the current cooperation from the Mexican government.

“Now they’re doing yeoman’s work,” Trump said of Mexico.

Government contractors erect a section of border wall along the Colorado River, Sept. 10, 2019 in Yuma, Ariz. Construction began as federal officials revealed a list of Defense Department projects to be cut to pay for the wall.

Effectiveness

During much of his time inspecting a section of new wall, Trump touted its strength, claiming “20 mountain climbers” had tried to scale it to test its effectiveness.

“This is the one that was hardest to climb,” he said of the current type being built in the San Diego sector. “This wall can’t be climbed.”

“You can fry an egg on that wall,” he added, noting how it is designed to absorb heat, making it even more difficult to scale.

The border barrier being built is meant to deter even the most well-equipped smuggling operations, according to the president.

“If you think you’re going cut it with a blowtorch, that doesn’t work because you hit concrete,” Trump said, adding that cutting through concrete won’t work because it is reinforced with rebar.

When the president attempted to get an Army general to discuss high-technology security measures that are part of the wall, the officer demurred, saying it would be better not to mention those features.

Trump told reporters that three other countries were studying the new type of wall in hopes of building one of their own. He said he would disclose the names of those countries if he got their approval.

Trump also said the U.S. government would be stopping next week the “catch and release” of undocumented people trying to enter the country, something his administration has opposed from the beginning.

“To the extent they have released people who have been caught, it’s only been because of resource constraints either in the immigration court system or in the detention system,” MPI’s Chishti said. “There is no reason to believe that either of those factors has been addressed in the recent past, so while the administration can announce the end of catch and release, without an effective infrastructure to support it, it’s hard to see how it will be a different day on immigration enforcement.”

Praise for Mexico

Trump noted Tijuana is close by, saying “there are thousands of people over there that were trying to get in.” He then praised Mexico for its efforts that have significantly stemmed the flow of migrants at the border.

Analysts say the reductions in arrivals at the border are a combination of increased Mexican enforcement; the throttling of asylum avenues by the Trump administration with the creation of the Remain in Mexico plan and limits on who can apply for asylum; and seasonal declines in migration at this time of the year.

“This is the wall the agents asked for,” a Border Patrol agent told the president at the border Wednesday.

Trump, however, is not getting one wall option he desired, at least for now: a black coat of paint.

“We can paint it at a later date,” said the president, noting the cost savings can be applied to build even more wall.

Lawsuit by Relatives of 9/11 Victims Shakes Loose Name of Saudi ‘Mystery Man’ 

Relatives of the victims of the 9/11 attacks who are suing Saudi Arabia for compensation obtained a coveted piece of information last week that they hope will strengthen their case.

The FBI disclosed the name of a Saudi official who is believed to have helped two of the 19 hijackers who carried out the terror attacks in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania on Sept. 11, 2001.

The name, included in a 2012 FBI report on suspected Saudi ties to the terrorists, was released to lawyers representing the families of nearly 3,000 victims of the worst act of terrorism on American soil.

The mystery man allegedly tasked two other Saudis living in the Los Angeles area before the 9/11 attacks — Omar al-Bayoumi and Fahad al-Thumairy — to aid Nawaf al-Hazmi and Khalid al-Mihdhar, who crashed American Airlines Flight 77 into the Pentagon.

FILE – Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., right, is flanked by John D’Amato, an attorney for the victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, as he faces reporters in New York, July 27, 2003, with a copy of the government report on the attacks.

Al-Bayoumi allegedly did such things as finding the two terrorists an apartment, co-signing their lease and paying their first month’s rent.

Fourteen other hijackers forced two other airliners to crash into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center and a third into a field in Pennsylvania.

“This has been a very important name to our case because it will now tie the kingdom of Saudi Arabia and their officials in an official capacity directing the actions of 9/11,” said Terry Strada, national chair of the 9/11 Families and Survivors United for Justice Against Terrorism, whose husband died in the attack on the North Tower.

Most hijackers were Saudis

Fifteen of the 19 hijackers were Saudi nationals, which has raised persistent suspicion about Saudi involvement. But Saudi Arabia has long denied any connection, and over the years it has waged a vociferous campaign to forestall the litigation and disclosure of damaging information.

Neither the FBI nor the CIA could conclusively say after the attacks that the Saudi government was responsible.

The Saudi Embassy in Washington did not respond to a request for comment.

Lawyers for the families declined to discuss the name, but they said the disclosure connected the dots between al-Bayoumi and al-Thumairy and the hijackers.

“Our mission here is to uncover facts about what Omar al-Bayoumi and Fahad al-Thumairy did and who they were working with,” said Sean Carter, co-chair of the Plaintiffs’ Executive Committee in the case.

FILE – Mohammad bin Salman Al Saud, then the Saudi Arabia defense minister, arrives to attend the Global Coalition to Counter IS Meeting at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, outside of Washington, July 20, 2016.

Turning point

The disclosure marks a turning point in the case, as the Justice Department acquiesced to demands for disclosure, despite the Trump administration’s close relations with Saudi Arabia and Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman.

The litigation grew out of hundreds of lawsuits filed against Saudi Arabia in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks. The lawsuits have since been consolidated into one massive case. It seeks billions of dollars from Saudi Arabia for supporting al-Qaida and facilitating the 9/11 attacks.

For nearly 13 years, the case languished in the courts, hampered by a 1976 law that largely protects foreign governments from being sued in U.S. courts.

Then came the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act, or JASTA, the 2016 law that allows U.S. citizens to sue foreign governments over terrorist acts carried out on American soil.

That pumped fresh blood into the case. Last year, a federal judge in New York rejected Saudi Arabia’s latest motion to dismiss the lawsuit and ruled that the case could move forward. Attorneys for the 9/11 families were allowed to collect information from Saudi Arabia, the U.S. government and other parties about Saudi support for the hijackers, including the activities of al-Bayoumi and al-Thumairy.

FBI report

Their names were mentioned in the 2012 FBI report, which referenced an unnamed third person who tasked them to help the two hijackers.

The FBI released the report in late 2016 in response to a Freedom of Information Act request by a news site, but kept the name of the third person redacted. The 9/11 families’ lawyers pressed for its release, and Attorney General William Barr consented, while invoking “state secrets” privileges over much of the rest of the report.

The FBI investigated al-Bayoumi and al-Thumairy after 9/11 but released them without bringing any charges. The men are believed to be living in Saudi Arabia.

The families’ lawyers say they want to talk to them.

“We intend to depose all witnesses whose attendance we can compel, whether by U.S. rules, treaties or international law and norms,” Carter said.

Print Media Outlets Struggle to Survive in South Sudan

South Sudan had a vibrant print media when it separated from Sudan in 2011, with 34 newspapers and six magazines in circulation. 
 
Today, there are only five newspapers left. Most publishers trying to establish a foothold do not last long enough to celebrate their first anniversary. 
 
Several newspaper owners blame the country’s economic crisis for their downfall. Charles Rehan, founder of the defunct Juba Post, told VOA’s South Sudan in Focus that his paper failed to survive more than two years because of a lack of materials needed to publish the paper. 
 
“We printed newspapers in Khartoum, and when South Sudan separated from Khartoum, we went to print in Uganda. When you bring newspapers from Uganda, the newspaper will come late,” and that affected the paper’s ability to grow, Rehan said. 
 
Future of print 
 
A lack of newspapers could hurt South Sudan’s future, Rehad said. Journalists serve an important function, he said, when they ask questions, investigate wrongdoing and force government officials to address the problems facing the country. 
 
“If there is something going wrong, the journalists will say, ‘This is wrong, this is the right direction.’ But without newspapers, the country cannot develop at all,” he said. 
 
Thomas Manase, CEO of Brisker magazine, said South Sudan has a poor reading culture that limits the growth of print media. 
 
“In South Sudan, young people don’t like to pick up stuff to read and be informed,” Manase told VOA. In addition, he said, businesses don’t value advertising. “This has really affected our sales.” 
 
Brisker stopped printing after publishing just four issues. It can now be found online.  

FILE – Stacks of South Sudanese newspapers sit on shelves in the office of the Association for Media Development in South Sudan (AMDISS) in Juba, in May 2019.

Irene Ayaa, media development officer at the Association for Media Development in South Sudan (AMDISS), said many reporters and editors have abandoned journalism for better-paying careers with nongovernmental organizations. 
 
“The salaries that they are getting are not motivating them to the standard that they have in terms of training,” Ayaa told South Sudan in Focus. 
 
A survey conducted by AMDISS found that the highest-paid journalists in South Sudan’s print media earned roughly 40,000 South Sudanese pounds a month, the equivalent of $250, while the lowest-paid journalists received about 10,000 South Sudanese pounds a month, or $60. 
 
She said since the pay is so low, it’s not uncommon for journalists to accept money for transportation or lunch, which she believes can affect a journalist’s objectivity. 
 
Threats against media 
 
She also said that threats, harassment and intimidation of the media by security operatives have forced some journalists to leave their work and seek safety in neighboring countries. 
 
But overall, it’s South Sudan’s ailing, post-civil war economy that’s the culprit. Alison Ismail, chief executive officer of the Star Tribune, said the hard economic times in South Sudan forced him to close his newspaper last year. 
 
“Nothing will make me to jeopardize or put myself at risk of doing business when I am going to lose every day,” Ismail declared, saying he would reopen his paper only after the economy picked up. 
 
Oliver Modi, head of the Union of Journalists in South Sudan, said he thought many print media operators in South Sudan failed because of bad management. 
 
He said most newspaper owners don’t do market research before launching their operations. “They don’t have a strategic plan and proper budget to sustain their newspapers,” Modi said. 
 
A handful of newspapers have stayed alive. Anna Nimiriano, editor in chief of the Juba Monitor, said her paper was surviving, but just barely. 
 
“What is helping us is advertisement and sales,” Nimiriano told South Sudan in Focus.  

“If we follow the footsteps of others, there will be no print media in South Sudan,” she added. 
 
Still, Nimiriano is hopeful. “If there is peace, everything will be stable,” she told VOA. 

Swedish Teen Climate Activist Urges US Lawmakers to ‘Follow the Science’

Swedish teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg appeared before a U.S. Congressional committee Wednesday, urging law makers to “listen to the science” and take action on global climate change.

The 16-year-old Thunberg has been in Washington since last week when she joined U.S. and indigenous activists for a protest designed to build support for a global climate strike on Friday and put pressure on lawmakers to take action on climate change.

She was one of four students to appear Wednesday before a joint hearing of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia, Energy, and the Environment and the Select Committee on the Climate Crisis.

She submitted a report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in lieu of her testimony, and told the lawmakers to “follow the science:”

“Well, well I don’t see a reason to not listen to the science, is such just such a thing that we should be taking for granted that we listen to the current best available united science. It’s just something that everyone should do. This is not political opinions, political views or my opinions, this is, this is the science, so yeah,” she said.

Later on Wednesday, Thunberg joined seven young Americans who have sued the U.S. government for failing to take action on climate change on the steps of the Supreme Court. They urged political leaders and lawmakers to support their legal fight and take action to phase out the use of fossil fuels.

Thunberg first gained notoriety last year when she began skipping school each Friday to protest outside the Swedish parliament. She was joined by other students and later founded the ‘Fridays for Future’ weekly school walkouts around the world  to demand government climate-change action.

Her organization of “climate strikers” reached 3.6 million people across 169 countries. She has been in the United States since last month when she sailed in to New York on a solar-powered boat to attend a U.N. climate summit.

 

Have Retired Jack Ma, Alibaba Steered Away From China Communist Party’s Clutches?

The recent retirement of Jack Ma, former chairman of the Alibaba Group, has set a positive example in China for entrepreneurs to plan succession, ensuring the long-term sustainability of their businesses, according to some analysts.    

But others insist it is still too early to tell if the world’s largest e-commerce giant and its charismatic founder have since steered away from the clutches of the Communist Party, which seemingly views large private companies as a threat.

“They key thing here is not to be too confident about any outcome yet, because we’re simply too early in the cycle here. Jack can still retire and then find himself in a lot of problems later,” said Fraser Howie, co-author of three books on the Chinese financial system, including “Red Capitalism: The Fragile Financial Foundations of China’s Extraordinary Rise.”

On the heels of his official retirement last Tuesday, rife speculation remains that Ma was forced out because he had become “too powerful and influential” and posed a challenge to the authority of China’s top leadership. His tech empire remains under the government’s close scrutiny.

State pressure

It is believed that through his retirement, Ma has avoided being caught up in the Chinese government’s crackdown of big dealmakers in recent years, such as HNA Group’s Wang Jian, Anbang Insurance Group’s Wu Xiaohui, and movie star Fan Bingbing. The latter two “disappeared” for months at one point, according to observers.

FILE – The company sign of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd is seen outside its headquarters in Beijing, China, June 29, 2019.

“He’s getting an airlift before the hammer falls because he clearly would have been the most high-profile scalp within the private sector,” said Howie, adding that Ma’s case also fires a warning shot across the bow of the country’s rich and famous.

Additionally, the fact that some of the country’s tycoons, including Ma, have pledged to hand over control of their businesses to the Communist Party, if needed, epitomizes the lopsided relationship between the state and the private sector under the leadership of President Xi Jinping.

For example, shortly after Ma expressed his intention to step down, Alibaba’s online payment platform Alipay inked an agreement with state-owned UnionPay to cooperate on cardless and barcode payments — a development that led to much speculation that Alipay eventually would be nationalized.

Xi has good reason to view Ma as a threat because the tycoon’s popularity among the public has outshone that of any government officials in China, said Emmy Hu, former executive editor-in-chief of Global E-Businessmen, an online media platform under Alibaba.

“He is one of the most popular and iconic figures in China. Shall democratic and free elections be held, he would have won most votes across China if he’s up to,” Hu said.

Corporate rivalry

Ma is so popular in China that many fraudsters use the catchphrase “you’ll be the next Jack Ma” in an effort to entice victims, she noted.

It’s hard to imagine, therefore, that someone as hardworking, ambitious and successful as Ma would choose to step down at a young age of 55 if it weren’t for political pressure, according to Hu.

FILE – Jack Ma attends Alibaba’s 20th anniversary party at a stadium in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, China, Sept. 10, 2019.

The journalist added that Ma’s success as a business leader, who has made a great contribution to the economy and provided a livelihood for more than 10 million vendors on Alibaba-owned online shopping site Taobao, made him an obvious target for the Communist Party as it tightened its grip on the private sector.    

“The pressure that the state has exerted on private enterprises is getting more and more evident. That includes policies requiring companies to set up (Communist) party committees or business executives to join the party” to name a few, Hu said.

Apart from the impact of the U.S.-China trade war, the business environment in China has become increasingly hostile toward private companies that state-owned companies see as rivals and hope to edge out to expand market shares, she said.

Succession model

Hu says from a purely business point of view, Ma set a marvelous example in Asia for businessmen to plan succession — an observation with which venture capitalist C.Y. Huang agrees.

“I think he is a role model who has completed a successful succession for peer mainland Chinese companies (to look up to). … In five years, he has groomed his successors … and proved that his company doesn’t necessarily rely on one person,” said Huang, a partner at FCC Partners, a Taipei-based investment bank.     

Daniel Zhang replaced Ma as Alibaba’s chief executive in 2015. Last week, he also took over Ma’s chairmanship.

Huang underscored that all too often, founding patriarchs of Asian companies have refused to hand over the reins, which then creates barriers for businesses to modernize. He pointed out that on a personal level, Ma sets an example for business people to enjoy their lives, and pursue dreams and goals outside of their businesses.

 

Футбол: «Шахтар» відкриє Лігу чемпіонів домашнім матчем проти «Манчестер Сіті»

У середу ввечері донецький клуб «Шахтар» прийме у Харкові англійський «Манчестер Сіті» в рамках першого туру групового етапу Ліги чемпіонів. Це буде перша єврокубкова гра «гірників» у нинішньому сезоні.

Поєдинок розпочнеться о 22:00 на стадіоні «Металіст».

Матч у прямому ефірі покаже телеканал «Футбол 2».