White House Promises Nothing Shady Went Down In Jack Ma Meeting

The president met China's second-richest man Tuesday in a private lunch and has had to defend it ever since.
Posted at 6:30 PM, May 18, 2016

Another day, another very minor White House flub garnering headlines. This time it involves the president having lunch with Jack Ma, China's second-richest man.

President Obama and Ma met privately Tuesday, and the press only found out after seeing Ma leave the building afterward. The White House has had to defend the meeting ever since. 

Ma's company, Alibaba, makes him a pretty controversial figure. Alibaba is China's largest e-commerce company but has been accused of not doing enough to stop counterfeiters that use the site to sell their goods. Alibaba was also basically booted out of the International AntiCounterfeiting Coalition after companies quit in protest of its inclusion. 

The White House promises nothing untoward is going on. The president and Ma appeared onstage at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting last year, and the president told Ma to stop by the White House if he were ever in town. 

Though no details of what the men talked about have been revealed yet, the White House says they have "a number of common interests," including climate change and the international economy. 

Obama's press secretary also pointed to Ma's name on the White House visitor's log as proof there isn't anything shady going on. 

This video includes images from Getty Images and clips from the White HouseThe Wall Street JournalRapplerBloombergCNBCThe Washington Post and Stanford University