'Kung fu king' in hot seat

City talk | Siu Sai-wo 17 Sep 2018

Jack Ma Yun will step down as chairman of Alibaba, and his successor, chief executive Daniel Zhang Yong, has been thrust into the global limelight.

Zhang has been with the group for many years and has been instrumental in the success of online retail platforms Taobao and Tmall.

His ability is well recognized in the dotcom sector but Ma's unique image and style is not something that can be substituted.

Zhang is nicknamed Xiaoyao Zi - free and unfettered person, a legendary kung fu master character in Jin Yong's martial arts novel Tian Long Ba Bu, or Demi-Gods and Semi-Devils.

After his appointment as the next chairman was announced, there were comments in the mainland media that he will not be free and unfettered any more.

Like Zhang, many senior management members of the Alibaba group have monikers that are also taken from Jin Yong's novels. For example, chief marketing officer Wang Shuai, whom I've met in Hong Kong a few years ago, is Bei Lei Shou; chief risk officer Shao Xiaofeng is Guo Jing.

In the novel, Xiaoyao Zi came into possession of a valuable book in Dali on the basis of which he created the "eternally youthful style of fighting."

He also established his own kung fu sect, with the most notable disciple being Tian Shan Tong Lao.

The concept xiao yao was from the work of ancient philosopher Zhuangzi, and Xiaoyao Zi's martial art form was also based on the ways of Nature. His most formidable set of moves was bei ming shen gong, which is almost unrivalled.

Readers might also be impressed with his ling bo wei bu, a kind of qinggong - gravity-defying technique - that helped Duan Yu, the main character Tian Long Ba Bu, to escape every time he ran into a dangerous situation, as he did not know kung fu.

Having earned himself the moniker Xiaoyao Zi, Zhang is clearly seen as a top level master who has the ability to handle heavy tasks with ease.

Siu Sai-wo is publisher of Sing Tao Daily

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