Chinese billionaire Jack Ma’s pledge of creating one million new jobs in the U.S. is the trade war’s latest casualty. The head of Alibaba garnered much attention at the beginning of last year after making an ambitious pledge after a meeting Ma had with Donald Trump, who at that time was the president elect.
However, late Wednesday an interview was published by Xinhua, the official China news agency in which Ma said that the new tariffs that Washington as well as Beijing had imposed the last few months undermined his plan.
The promise Ma said was based upon friendly U.S.-China cooperation and bilateral trade relations that were reasonable, but the ongoing situation destroyed that. He added that the promise cannot be completed.
A spokesperson for Alibaba, the largest e-commerce company in China, confirmed the comments by Ma.
Analysts already had expressed much doubt about Ma’s pledge, which was announced by Alibaba after Ma and Trump met in New York at the Trump Tower in January of 2017.
At that time, Trump said that he and Ma would be doing great things. The vague promise by Ma was not based upon an investment by Alibaba in the U.S. to build plants or fulfillment centers. Rather, he spoke about trade stimulating by helping small businesses in the U.S. sell products they have to consumers in both China and other Asian nations.
Alibaba last year held a conference in Detroit that encouraged small businesses as well as farmers in the U.S. to sell products they made or farmed to consumers in China through its platforms.
In the interview by Xinhua, Ma said that Alibaba would not stop pushing for healthy development of trade between the U.S. and China.
Ma, who strongly advocates globalization, expressed mounting fears over the trade war, speaking to investors earlier in the week saying that it could last two decades.
It will last a long time and it’s going to be a big mess, Ma said on Tuesday from the Alibaba home city of Hangzhou.
The tycoon, who is 54, set up his now huge e-platform Alibaba out of his apartment almost 20 years ago and announced earlier this month that he would be stepping down as the company’s executive chair in 2019 and Daniel Zhang the company’s CEO would succeed him.