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Alibaba founder Jack Ma performs a duet with Canto-pop diva Faye Wong in a duet on September 9. Picture: Youku

Alibaba founder Jack Ma joins Canto-pop queen Faye Wong in live-streamed duet on Youku video platform

  • Jack Ma is famed for his flamboyant performances, having danced on stage and starred in a kung fu film
  • Faye Wong’s live-streaming performance is a rare appearance for the 90s superstar

Jack Ma might be retired from his role as Alibaba’s executive chairman, but that doesn’t mean he’s moving away from the limelight.

On Wednesday night, the billionaire founder of Alibaba appeared as a surprise guest in a live-streaming session featuring Chinese pop diva Faye Wong. The 51-year-old superstar, famous for her breathy voice, is a household name in Chinese communities across the globe. In the West, she’s best known for starring in the cult classic film Chungking Express, from Hong Kong director Wong Kar-wai.

(Alibaba owns the South China Morning Post.)

The two performed a duet of the Mando-pop song Ru Guo Yun Zhi Dao, or If the Cloud Knows. The song choice is a tongue-in-cheek reference to Ma’s Chinese name, Yun, which means “cloud”. Part of the lyrics were changed to fit him.

“The cloud actually knows it can’t escape the prison of Taobao,” Ma sang, referencing Alibaba’s e-commerce platform.

Social media comments on Ma’s voice were mixed. While one internet user said that Ma’s singing was “surprisingly good”, another said, “Without a word, I muted Ma’s singing.”

Wong’s performance, on the other hand, was widely praised. The songstress, who performed four songs during the live session, rarely makes public appearances these days. The hashtag “Faye Wong status” was a top trending topic on Weibo at one point. Related posts were viewed more than 890 million times.

Ma and Wong’s duet, streamed on the Alibaba-owned video platform Youku, wasn’t their first.

In November 2017, they recorded a theme song for a short kung fu film produced by action star Jet Li, which also starred Ma as a master of martial arts. The film was released on Singles’ Day, the Chinese online shopping festival that falls on November 11 every year.


Outgoing Alibaba chief Jack Ma and his successor sing at company celebration

Outgoing Alibaba chief Jack Ma and his successor sing at company celebration

The flamboyant tycoon has never been one to shy away from the stage. During Alibaba’s annual party in 2017, he showed up sitting on a motorcycle and danced to the opening notes of Michael Jackson’s Billie Jean. During a company farewell party last year, he performed several pop songs while dressed in a studded leather jacket and holding a guitar befitting a rock star.

Ma is part of a line of tech titans who have tried to impress with songs and dances. Baidu CEO Robin Li once performed the tango on a reality show while Xiaomi CEO Lei Jun attempted the Melbourne shuffle at a New Year’s party in 2018.