Alibaba’s vice president of technology says trip to US was just to see doctor
Published: Apr 15, 2022 12:07 AM
File photo shows the Alibaba employees entering the company in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province.Photo:Xinhua

File photo shows the Alibaba employees entering the company in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province.Photo:Xinhua

Jia Yangqing, Alibaba's vice president of technology, posted a clarification on his social media account on Thursday saying that he had not resigned from the company, and had simply traveled from Shanghai to the US to see a doctor.

Jia travelled from Shanghai to California, the US, in the middle of the night because of the situation in Shanghai, according to Jia's Facebook post that circulated online. Jia's post, written in English, not only criticized Shanghai's epidemic prevention policies, but also described how he used his connections to get a pass to fly to the US overnight.

Jia wrote in a Facebook post that he found "someone with 'connections' to get a pass, crossed the city at 4 am in the backseat of a van" and "passed through police checkpoints in a don't-ask-don't-tell way."

Jia's mockery of Shanghai's epidemic prevention policies in his Facebook post and use of connections to fly to the US drew a huge backlash from netizens and became one of the top trending topics on China's Twitter-like social media, Sina Weibo.

Jia explained in another post written in Chinese that it's possible to buy tickets and go to the airport normally when taking international flights after the quarantine date expires, and no special approval was required. Besides, the use of "connections" referred to asking a friend for help to contact a taxi to get to the airport, Jia explained.

"The English statement was full of contempt for Shanghai's epidemic prevention policy and self-congratulation for exploiting loopholes, while the statement written in Chinese was vague and full of excuses to justify himself," one netizen commented on Weibo.

Jia studied automation at Tsinghua University as an undergraduate and graduate student, and then went to the University of California, Berkeley to get a PhD in computer science. During his PhD, he created the source code for Caffe, a deep learning framework used by Microsoft, Yahoo, Nvidia, Adobe and others.

Alibaba announced on March 18, 2019, that Jia, a former Facebook artificial intelligence scientist, had joined Alibaba as a vice president of technology and to lead the research and development of the big data computing platform.