Jack Ma, the founder of Chinese retail giant Alibaba, is backing down on his promise to create 1 million jobs in the U.S. over the next five years, amid the ongoing trade war between President Trump and China.
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The billionaire previously told Trump before his inauguration in January 2017 that he would commit to creating new jobs, but recanted those sentiments Wednesday to a Chinese news outlet, Xinhua, on the heels of a new round of tariffs this week from both countries.
"The promise was made on the premise of friendly US-China partnership and rational trade relations," Ma told Xinhua. "That premise no longer exists today, so our promise cannot be fulfilled."
A day earlier, Ma referred to the trade frictions between the countries as “a mess” and said the war could end up lasting 20 years or more, causing a lot of Chinese businesses to move to other countries.
He said new trade rules are desperately needed over the long-term.
"Even if Donald Trump retired, the new president will come, it will still continue...We need new trade rules, we need to upgrade the WTO," he said Tuesday during the company’s shareholder meeting in Hangzhou.
Ma, who recently announced that he will be stepping down as Alibaba’s chairman within a year, also told Xinhua that despite the current fiction, he will “not stop working hard to contribute to the healthy development of China-US trade."
"Trade is not a weapon and should not be used to start wars — it should be the driver for peace," Ma added.
For years, Ma has been pushing his vision of U.S. small businesses selling to Chinese shoppers through his online marketplaces, but many experts have criticized his plan.
As a Bloomberg report once explained, Alibaba is merely just a platform and it’s not as easy as listing on Amazon.com, which has its own logistics network to standardize delivery.
If small businesses want to list on Alibaba, they would have to go to third-party service providers to do everything from translation to shipping to navigating the complex Chinese legal system, which could end up being a big risk for many entrepreneurs.