That Alibaba (BABA) The co-founder commented on both topics separately in an interview with CNBC on Tuesday. “Everything has been stabilized since they introduced the national security law,” Tsai said, referring to a controversial measure enacted in the city last year after months of historic mass protests. The law prohibited sedition, secession, and subversion against Beijing and allowed Chinese State Security to operate on the territory. Since then, numerous opposition activists have been arrested, schools have been ordered to remove critical books from their curricula, and the authorities have put extensive restrictions on mass demonstrations.

Tsai, a billionaire businessman who has a home in Hong Kong, shared his experience during the crisis and said, “In 2019, when people protested on the streets, I was actually afraid to take to the streets.”

“I actually felt physically threatened by … these protesters,” added Tsai, who grew up in Taiwan.

Tsai now argues that despite its setbacks, Hong Kong still has many competitive advantages as a global business hub, from a low income tax rate to open markets.

“It’s a free market economy,” he said. “You put money on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange today … in Hong Kong dollars, tomorrow you can withdraw it in US dollars. There is free flow of capital.”

Hong Kong has long been recognized as a major business hub connecting East and West. Even after the city was handed over from Great Britain to China in 1997, it maintained its image for decades, aided by Beijing’s pledge to maintain its semi-autonomous status for 50 years from the date of the handover.Hong Kong used to be the flagship of economic freedom.  No longerBut more recently, its status as an international gateway has been questioned as “an unprecedented number of expatriates have left or are planning to leave the city in recent years,” according to the American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong booted from an index of economic freedom it used to run, which dealt another blow to its reputation. Hong Kong officials blew up the move, saying the exclusion of the territory was “neither justified nor justified”. According to official figures, about 26.3% of the city’s total population received their first dose of vaccine, compared to 52.6% of the US population. Strict quarantine measures in the former British colony have also made international travel almost impossible for many months.Jack Ma exchanges drawings with his biggest fanIn his interview, Tsai also shared an update on his business partner, Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma, who largely disappeared from the public eye after landing in hot water with regulators last year. Ma angered Beijing last year after accusing authorities of stifling innovation and blowing up China’s banks for having a “pawnshop” mentality. Since then, regulators have launched unprecedented crackdown on technology companies in China, including Alibaba.

When asked about the matter, Tsai said Ma “was lying low” while taking up new hobbies such as painting.

“I talk to him every day … he is actually very, very well,” he said. “I think you need to separate what happens to Jack and what happens to our business.”