Alibaba’s Jack Ma says trade war endangers job pledge

Beijing: Alibaba founder Jack Ma said a China-US trade war could endanger his pledge to create 1 million US jobs, state media reported Tuesday, as China and the US lock horns over trade.

The billionaire made the headline-grabbing promise to Donald Trump at Trump tower last year as Beijing worked to woo the newly elected president, known for his antagonistic views on China’s economic policies.

But as Washington and Beijing play chicken over trade, Ma said China’s largest online shopping portal might not be able to deliver.

Speaking at the Boao Forum — dubbed the Asian Davos — Ma said that “if China and the US maintain good trade relations, providing 1 million jobs to the US is absolutely no problem, we can even provide 10 million jobs,” according to the state-owned People’s Daily.

“But, if there is no trade with China, there are also no million jobs,” he added.

The comments followed a speech by Chinese President Xi Jinping at the forum’s opening ceremony, where the leader vowed to further open China’s economy to foreign investment and products, key demands of the Trump administration.

Tit-for-tat tariffs and mutual threats of more levies on hundreds of billions of dollars worth of products between Beijing and Washington have raised fears of a trade war that could lacerate the global economy.

Ma’s firm has already had first-hand experience of the US’s cooling enthusiasm towards China.

In March, Alibaba affiliate Ant Financial was forced to abandon a $1.2 billion deal to buy US remittances firm MoneyGram after failing to get approval from regulators in Washington.