Jack Ma, the recently departed chairman of Chinese retail giant Alibaba, said Wednesday that President Donald Trump's trade war with China will scuttle the company's pledge to bring 1 million jobs to the US.
Ma and Trump met in January 2017 to discuss how adding small and medium-sized USA businesses to Alibaba's platform would boost employment. "The current situation has already destroyed this original premise".
However, the 54-year-old tech tycoon said that the trade war is "against China" and hit out at his country's policies, calling on Chinese leaders to see the damage inflicted by Trump's tariff salvo, as an opportunity to "upgrade".
On Monday, the Trump administration expanded tariffs on another $200 billion worth of Chinese imported goods.
"The economic outlook is not ideal of course, and it will last longer than people expect", Ma said at the World Economic Forum in Tianjin.
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Against the backdrop of rising trade protectionism, he said that goal has become even more relevant.
"It's going to be long-lasting, it's going to be a mess, maybe 20 years", Ma said. It's not a trade war.
China responded a day later with tariffs on about $60-billion worth of USA goods as planned, but reduced the level of tariffs it will collect on the products.
Chinese firms with factories in the United States would also face higher costs as they ship USA -assembled products back home.
"Short term, business communities in China, U.S., Europe will all be in trouble", Ma said on Tuesday, during a speech at Alibaba's investor day in Hangzhou.
Under that succession plan, Zhang will be promoted to executive chairman on September 10 next year, while Ma will remain a director on Alibaba's board and a permanent member of the Alibaba Partnership, according to a letter to all staff including the South China Morning Post, which is wholly owned by the New York-traded company.