The trouble started in late October after Ma criticized China's regulators at a conference in Shanghai. As Ma's financial tech firm Ant Group was preparing for the world's largest initial public offering, he accused authorities of stifling innovation and blasted the country's banks for having a "pawn shop" mentality.
Beijing's retaliation was swift. Within days, regulators called off the IPO, but not before summoning Ma and Ant executives to a meeting. In the weeks since then, regulators have ordered Ant to restructure large swaths of the company. They even extended their scrutiny to Alibaba, which is now the subject of an antitrust investigation.