Jack Ma makes a grim prediction about US-China trade war

Kenny Grant
September 20, 2018

The trade war between the US and China could go on for 20 more years, outlasting Donald Trump's presidency, e-commerce giant Alibaba's founder and billionaire Jack Ma warned Tuesday.

"The promise was made on the premise of friendly US-China partnership and rational trade relations", Ma told Chinese newspaper Xinhua on Wednesday.

Ma, China's richest man, made the remarks in an interview in the state-owned Xinhua news service, saying the pledge made to President Donald Trump is no longer feasible because of the unstable trade situation.

Ma had met US President Donald Trump two years ago and laid out the Chinese e-commerce giant's plan to bring one million small US businesses onto its platform to sell to Chinese consumers over the next five years.

Ma was speaking at an Alibaba investor conference hours after Washington said it would impose duties on an extra United States dollars 200 billion worth of Chinese imports, drawing a warning from Beijing that it would retaliate.

"You may win the battle, but you lose the war", Ma added, speaking at Alibaba's investor day event in Hangzhou, per Reuters.

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Alibaba is no exception and would suffer from the effects of the trade war, however the crisis would also present new opportunities for the company to capitalize, Ma said. He predicted that Chinese businesses would move production to other countries in the medium-term to get around the tariffs.

In April Ma doubled down on his pledge, claiming 10 million jobs could be created "if China and the U.S. maintain good trade relations".

The Chinese firm said the new subsidiary would make customised AI chips and embedded processors to support the firm's push into fast growing cloud and internet of things (IoT) businesses.

Mr Ma pointed to business opportunities in other regions such as Europe, South America, Russia and Africa, Xinhua said.

Ma, the charismatic co-founder of Alibaba, announced last week that he would step down in one year to concentrate on philanthropy and education, passing on the reins to trusted lieutenant Daniel Zhang.

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