Alibaba Group, which was established in the year 1999 as an e-commerce entity, today surpassed Walmart as the world’s largest retailer. Alibaba boasts a gross market value of almost $476 billion. In terms of market capitalisation, Alibaba compares with Apple at $615, Google 307, Alibaba 215 and Facebook 204, respectively. Its popularity is reflected by a base of 250 million customers in China, utilising its e-commerce portal. In the year 2005, Jack Ma managed to convince Yahoo, an American internet company, to gamble and invest $1 billion in exchange for a 40 percent stake in Alibaba, which netted them almost $10 billion at the time Alibaba’s IPO was floated in the New York Stock Exchange.They also attempted to list their IPO in the Hong Kong Exchange but were declined, due to the structure of the IPO itself. Alibaba Group’s website shows that it provides the fundamental technology infrastructure and marketing reach, to help businesses leverage the power of the internet to establish an online presence and conduct commerce with millions of consumers. Its three core sites, namely Taobao, Tmall and Alibaba.com, host millions of merchants and businesses, with transactions amounting to almost $248 billion last year, exceeding those of eBay and Amazon.com combined. Alibaba is moving with trepidation into unchartered frontiers for financial services, with innovative Alipay payments applications, ranging from purchase of theatre tickets online, booking of taxis and investing in money-market funds. The money market fund, named Yu’e Bao, has accumulated assets of almost $87 billion. The fund’s phenomenal rise has set alarm bells ringing in the corridors of Chinese banks and regulators. The meteoric ascent of Alibaba has culminated into a memorandum of understanding between Siemens and Alibaba Cloud, the cloud computing arm of Alibaba. This has led to a venture called Internet of Things (IoT), products that link dozens of various manufacturing devices in China. Siemens is seizing the opportunity to make extensive inroads into China, presently Siemens’s third largest market. The benefit for China will be the introduction and mass usage capability of Industry 4.0-solutions in the country for its vast manufacturing base. The sought-after initiative is Mind Sphere, which is Siemens’ cloud based, open IoT operating system that links products, factories, systems and machines. Through the mechanism of collecting and compiling digital information from an arrangement of sensors installed in production lines, the ultimate goal is to reduce overheads, lower machine redundancy and save precious time. Alibaba’s good fortune has been the rising trend of Chinese consumers reverting to their smart phones for making payments, allowing data utilisation and their mobile payments market to surpass the US. Hence Alibaba has a fairly accurate and updated digitally based awareness of consumer spending patterns. So much so that privately Alibaba officials are apprehensive that competing business interests in the US want to prevent Chinese success in technology innovation at affordable costs. In the year 2005, Jack Ma managed to convince Yahoo! to invest $1 billion in exchange for a 40 per cent stake in Alibaba. This netted them almost $10 billion The open trade and tariff war between China and USA is exacerbated by irresponsible allegations that Chinese companies have flourished on the basis of intellectual theft from US entities. The Western rivals, particularly the US and Germany, may be rattled by Beijing’s high technology doctrine of “Made in China” in the areas of smart chips that are used in smart phones, high speed processors, cloud computing systems, renewable energy and plug-in electricity powered hybrid cars, besides others. Understandably the concerns of the West arise from their traditional domination of world trade, advancement in technology, and stranglehold over natural resources. Jack Ma is not only the company’s spiritual leader, he is also the wealthiest individual in China with a net worth of $25 billion, and retains a 7.8 percent stake in Alibaba and a 46 percent stake in the Alipay electronic payment affiliate. Yet what does China’s political and economic system hold for its affluent and wealthy class which is opting to move to the West, favouring a superior education system, unpolluted cities, toxicity and escape from a highly monitored security environment. This class of Chinese citizens seeks to preserve its accumulated wealth and it has been estimated that overseas assets of Chinese citizens comprise around 11 percent of the total assets of Chinese millionaires, with the bulk invested safely in overseas real estate. At the same time the developing world prefers emigration to the US and other Western countries and the trend to acquire Chinese nationality is simply not in vogue. Whether this is due to policy or lack of opportunities needs to be explored. There is talk of Alibaba entering the Pakistani online retail business and snapping up the local companies, which is prompting calls for enhanced regulatory intervention in an increasingly nervous and wary national business setting. The writer is involved in research in the areas of finance and energy Published in Daily Times, July 19th 2018.