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

Alibaba chairman Jack Ma and Apple CEO Tim Cook

Alibaba chairman Jack Ma and Apple CEO Tim Cook

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Jack Ma, the charismatic billionaire co-founder of Chinese e-tech giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, said he would not look to return as the firm's executive chairman after he steps down next year even if his successor faces problems.

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

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

"There is no way to fulfill the promise, but we will not stop our hard work to promote the healthy development of China-US trade".

Ma´s bold pledge following his January 2017 meeting at Trump Tower was greeted with scepticism by analysts at the time, who said the move was more about good PR than substance.

One million jobs would be close to one percent of all jobs in the United States - meaning that successfully delivering would make Alibaba one of the country's largest private employers.

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The new round of tariffs by Beijing will affect over 5,000 USA goods, ranging from meat, chemicals, nuts, alcoholic drinks, clothes, machinery, furniture and automobile parts, in a move that would further escalate the trade war between the world's largest two economies.

Alibaba's original promise was predicated on the idea that by giving U.S. small businesses more access to the Chinese market through Alibaba, the platform could help job growth in America.

He made the comments at the company's investor day conference in Hangzhou on Monday, just a few hours before the Donald Trump administration slapped 10% tariffs on Chinese goods amounting to Dollars 200 billion, CNNMoney reported.

"Trade is not a weapon for war, but a propeller of peace", Ma said.

Instead of helping American small businesses reach Chinese consumers, one of the richest men in China said Alibaba will seek business opportunities elsewhere, mainly in Russia, Europe, South America, and Africa.

Ma's comments also followed his surprise announcement - on his 54th birthday last Monday - about retiring next year.

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