Given the recent decimation in U.S. listed China based stocks, it is becoming abundantly clear who is running the show in China.
And no one person is coming to that realization quicker than Jack Ma. Once revered as a beacon of success and entrepreneurship out of China, Ma's outspoken nature and boisterous antics saw him fall out of favor with the Chinese Communist Party - quickly.
Such was the topic of a new, comprehensive Wall Street Journal report, which detailed the lesson Ma is now learning first hand: there is only one most powerful man in China.
How did Ma - who now is rarely, if ever, seen in public - fall out of favor with the CCP? He "behaved too much like an American entrepreneur," the report says.
After Ma gave a speech in October criticizing Chinese regulators for "stifling financial innovation", days later his $34 billion IPO of Ant Group had been blocked by the CCP. Since then, the company has had to restructure its business.
Within "hours" of his speech in October, state regulators began to compile reports on his companies and their operations.
Additionally, when Ant filed its IPO, the Journal reported that some regulators were "caught off guard" at how big the company's lending business had become.
Ant was also seen as "acting arrogantly" during its IPO roadshow, requiring people to make presentations if they wanted to invest, and limiting attendance for meetings with the company's executives, the report said.
And despite the company being in a "silent period" prior to its IPO, Jack Ma instead "live-streamed a singalong last September with Faye Wong, a Chinese pop superstar"
Now, Ma has been forced to hit the brakes: no more singalongs with Chinese pop stars, no more days dressing up as Michael Jackson. Instead of jetsetting globally and taking meetings, he has resorted to golfing and hiring a teacher to learn oil painting.
Ma also took to Beijing to try and smooth over his relationship with the government recently, but it was "too little, too late," the Wall Street Journal reported. Ma had already "strayed too far out of his lane". One of the world's richest men was brought to heel in just under a year...
"His ambition and outspoken nature, traits that drew a strong following among many in China, would no longer be tolerated in the tightened grip of Mr. Xi and the ruling party," the report said.
One Beijing official told the WSJ that Ma should have focused on “giving back to the Party instead of just focusing on his own interests.”
Now, we're seeing the same type of "reining in" with other businesses in China, including Didi, where the CCP has also recently initiated regulatory probes in hope of having the business operate closer to the state's interests.
You can read the WSJ's full report on Ma's history with the CCP here.