Alibaba co-founder and executive chairman Jack Ma said the premise of friendly US-China trade relations no longer exists and his Alibaba Group Holding no longer plans to create 1 million jobs in the US amid the intensified trade war between China and the US. Ma had offered the company’s e-commerce platform to help US businesses sell products to Asia, with the potential of creating up to 1 million American jobs, during a meeting with US President Donald Trump in New York City in January last year. “The promise was made based on the premise of friendly US-China partnership and rational trade relations,” Ma told state news agency Xinhua.
Alibaba’s move to back down from its promise has come after a further escalation of the trade war between the world’s two largest economies. On Monday, Trump announced that the US would impose 10 per cent tariffs on an additional US$200 billion worth of Chinese products from September 24, with the tariff rate increasing to 25 per cent on January 1 next year unless China makes concessions. China responded by imposing tariffs on US$60 billion worth of US goods. Ma will hand over the keys of Asia’s most valuable company to Alibaba chief executive Daniel Zhang Yong. 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.