25 May 2019
US-China trade battles could last decades, Alibaba's Jack Ma has warned. Photo: Bloomberg
US-China trade battles could last decades, Alibaba's Jack Ma has warned. Photo: Bloomberg

Be prepared for 20 years of China-US trade war: Jack Ma

Chinese business tycoon Jack Ma, the co-founder of e-commerce giant Alibaba Group, said on Thursday that people should make preparations for 20 years of China-US trade frictions.

The economic situation is not good, and that could last for a long time, Ma said at the World Economic Forum in Tianjin, Reuters reports.

Earlier, on Wednesday, Ma said Alibaba can no longer meet its promise to create 1 million jobs in the United States due to the trade tensions.

“The commitment was based on friendly China-US cooperation and the rational and objective premise of bilateral trade,” Ma told the Xinhua news agency.

“The current situation has already destroyed the original premise. There is no way to deliver the promise,” he said.

Ma met US President Donald Trump two years ago and laid out Alibaba’s plan to bring one million small US businesses onto its platform to sell to Chinese consumers over the next five years.

While Ma had not detailed how he would add those jobs, he has said that he wanted to encourage American small businesses to sell on Alibaba marketplace Tmall and Taobao, reasoning that every new business that joined the platform would have to hire a person to manage the extra sales.

Trump on Monday imposed 10 percent tariffs on about US$200 billion worth of imports from China, and threatened duties on about US$267 billion more if China retaliates.

China responded a day later with tariffs on about US$60 billion worth of US goods as planned, but reduced the level of tariffs it will collect on the products.

Ma’s latest comments come on top of others he recently made about the escalating trade skirmish and show his support for Beijing’s stance on how additional tariffs will affect businesses and the country’s cornerstone One Belt One Road foreign policy initiative, Reuters noted.

“The US likes competition, China likes harmony, they’re two different cultures,” Ma said at an investor conference in Shanghai on Tuesday.

Given the US trade tariffs, China must step up focus on exports to other regions, particularly on the modern-day “Silk Road”, he said.

“We should work more in Africa, SEA (South East Asia), Europe,” he said.

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