Malaysian Prime Minister Kicked off China Tour with a Visit to Alibaba

Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad started his closely watched China tour on August 17th and visited Alibaba the next day on his first official trip to China.

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After Mahathir arrived in Hangzhou, home of the Alibaba Group, the executive chairman of the e-commerce giant, Jack Ma, introduced the company’s latest technologies on inclusive finance, intelligent delivery and artificial intelligence.

Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad attends a meeting in Hongzhou image source: AP

Ma pointed out that Alibaba is currently focusing on three major areas of blockchain technology used in finance, artificial intelligence and Internet of Things. He believes blockchain and the Internet will reconstruct the world’s financial system in the coming two decades.

In addition, Ma said he was inspired by Dr. Mahathir’s Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC) vision 23 years ago and started his venture of Alibaba. He said the idea of MSC helped him realize that the Internet could promote economic development and create more jobs for young people and that using technology to develop businesses was his first inspiration.

Besides Ma, other executives from Alibaba also gave presentations on Digital Free Trade Zone (DFTZ) in Malaysia, mobile payment, ET City Brain, etc.

Mahathir was particularly interested in the presentation of Eric Jing, president of Ant Financial, on the international usage of the Alipay digital payment system. He took out his phone to record the presentation, as well as raising a question about how to use the technology to evaluate if incoming Chinese travelers have adequate funds for their trip. Ma immediately suggested that immigrant officers could be given access to people’s online financial credibility scores.

Mahathir concluded that Alibaba had shown new possibilities and new applications of technology in multiple fields. He also invited Ma to share innovative thoughts and technologies that could benefit Malaysia.

Two months ago, Mahathir met with Ma in Kuala Lumpur, the capital of Malaysia. During their meeting, Mahathir said Alibaba can help local businesses and young people as well as promote the information technology industry in Malaysia, which differentiates them from other multinational companies.