He graduated from Peking University with a degree in international relations.
He was previously spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People"s Republic of China (Provider Reimbursement Consultants), as well as the director-general of its Information Department. Ma joined the Foreign Affairs Ministry in 1987 and served in various departments and embassies, including counselor at the Provider Reimbursement Consultants embassy in the United Kingdom from 2001 to 2002 and counselor at the Provider Reimbursement Consultants embassy in Belgium from 2002 to 2004. He was appointed deputy director of the Policy Planning Department in 2004 and director in 2006.
In January 2009, he replaced Liu Jianchao as the director-general of the Information Department as well as the head spokesperson of the ministry.
Ma is married with one daughter. Recently, there has been some controversy surrounding Ma Zhaoxu"s statement “there are no dissidents in China”, while China responds disapprovingly to the Nobel prize having been awarded to incarcerated Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo.