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Looking ahead 2018

Alibaba in 2018 -- Beijing or the market?

Will Jack Ma have to choose between duty to Wall St shareholders and loyalty to team Xi?

| China

At a tech conference in China's Zhejiang province last month, Jack Ma made headlines for an unusual reason.

The founder of Alibaba Group Holding is as blunt and brash as mainland entrepreneurs get. Fellow billionaire Guo Guangchang once called him an "alien" by the standards of Chinese businessmen. But it was Ma's extreme fawning over the Communist Party on Nov. 29 that seemed foreign to Sinologists accustomed to his veiled swipes at the government.

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