Alibaba's Jack Ma says US-China trade friction could last 20 years

Todd Singleton
September 21, 2018

Jack Ma, co-founder of Chinese e-tech giant Alibaba Group Holding, said on Thursday that people should make preparations for 20 years of China-U.S.

Ma said Alibaba could create "1 million jobs over the next five years by enabling 1 million American small businesses and farmers to sell USA goods to China and Asian consumers on the Alibaba platform".

"The promise was made based on China and the U.S. having a collaborative and friendly relationship", he said in the Xinhua interview.

Given China's counter-tariffs and the push for Chinese firms to find alternative, non-US sources for goods, the already optimistic pledge would be even more unlikely in the current environment. "They still have many opportunities despite the trade frictions between China and the US", Ma said. "There is no way to deliver the promise", he said.

In an interview with Chinese outlet Xinhua, Ma said recent back-and-forth tariffs between the U.S. and China made the pledge - which was heavily touted by Trump in the early days of the transition period - unworkable.

"But we will continue to work hard to promote the healthy development of China-US trade".

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Ma told Xinhua he believes trade should never be used as a "weapon".

The billionaire owner of China's largest online shopping portal made the headline-grabbing promise to Mr Donald Trump a year ago, as Beijing courted the then-newly elected president.

Ma said that the US -initiated trade war is "against China", and also disapproved his country's policies requesting the leaders to open up the market and seize the situation as an opportunity to upgrade.

"Business communities in China, the USA and Europe will be all in trouble in the short term". On Tuesday, Beijing came back with tariffs on another $US60 billion worth of USA goods.

The comments are not surprising considering the sentiments he expressed earlier in the week, when he said the trade war could last for twenty years and that there is no short-term solution.

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