Postcard from... Beijing


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The Independent Online


One of China’s leading entrepreneurs, Jack Ma, and the kung fu movie star Jet Li have teamed up to open a tai chi school in the eastern city of Hangzhou to spread awareness of the ancient Chinese martial art.

Hailed as China’s smartest chief executive, Mr Ma, 48, founded Alibaba and turned it into the world’s biggest online retailer. Earlier this month he stepped down as CEO, saying he wanted to devote more time to education and the environment.

Li, who rose to fame as a kung fu star, has appeared in films including Zhang Yimou’s historical epic Hero and the Hollywood blockbuster The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor.

Mr Ma’s interest in tai chi is so intense that he takes a personal trainer when he travels.

Tai chi forms a part of Alibaba’s employee training, with about 1,500 employees learning the exercise in 2012.

The two men have set up Taiji Zen International with the aim of spreading the culture of tai chi to the world.

Their first step has been to open the school in Hangzhou, the home town of Alibaba, headed by the disciple of a well-known tai chi master.

The school will offer tai chi courses to the public starting this month, and will launch online courses in August.

“What I have learned most from tai chi is philosophical insight, such as the notion of yin and yang, which is a theory that states that things will develop in opposite directions when they become extreme and that people should learn to be moderate,” Mr Ma told Xinhua news agency.