Trade war with the US can last 20 years, Jack Ma warns Alibaba, China

Lulu Yilun Chen

Hong Kong | Alibaba Group co-founder Jack Ma warned Chinese companies and political leaders to prepare for the trade war with the US to last longer and have a greater impact than most people think.

China's richest man said the dispute could last 20 years and continue after the presidency of Donald Trump, because the two strongest economic powers in the world are fighting for global supremacy. China needs to strengthen its economy to cope with the conflict and to shift US trade relations to regions like Southeast Asia and Africa, Ma said during a speech at the company's investor day conference in Hangzhou.

"In the short term, business communities in China, the US, Europe will all get into trouble," said Ma, who went on a podium in an open white shirt and underlined his remarks with powerful jabs. "This thing will last a long time, if you want a solution for the short term, there is no solution."

His remarks came a few hours after China promised to take revenge on US plans to raise tariffs to about $ US200 billion ($ 279 billion) of Chinese goods. Mr. Ma said Alibaba would also be affected by the rising strains, given its wholesale trade allows American traders to purchase products from China. But he also said that the trauma offers unprecedented opportunities for companies that can benefit from this.

"We should not focus on the profits of this quarter or next quarter or next year, this is a huge opportunity," he said. "If Alibaba can not persevere and grow, no company in China can grow, I am 100% confident."


Alibaba shares, which are traded in the US, went down on Tuesday and were down about 9 percent this year.

Mr Ma's remarks are particularly serious because he is an icon of Chinese innovation and has been seen as an ambassador in the US. Last year he met Mr. Trump and promised to create 1 million jobs in the US by 2021.

But Mr. Ma, a week after he announced plans to transfer the chairman role to chief executive officer Daniel Zhang, undoubtedly left his support to his own country on Tuesday. If the US insists on raising tariffs on Chinese goods, China must shift its business to the rest of the world, he said.

"If problems arise, you learn to hide, learn to train," he said. "I believe Daniel and his team will have the wisdom to fight for the future."

Mr. Ma's speech underlined the void he will leave when he stops within a year. His monologue was accentuated by remarks about everything from geopolitical gambits to the importance of self-awareness on individual limits.

He even took a shot at the founder of, Richard Liu, refuting the idea that he was forced to leave the company. Mr. Ma said he received many questions from acquaintances, including questions about whether he had a "Minnesota" situation, a reference to the current charges of rape that JD & # 39; s Mr. Liu is facing. That caused a burst of laughter from the crowd. Mr. Liu has denied any mistake and no accusations have been made.

Mr. Ma said he was confident that he would leave the company to Mr. Zhang because the CEO strengthens Alibaba's ambitions in the field of e-commerce, so-called new retail and entertainment. These initiatives will support sales growth for the financial year ending March of 60 percent, a figure that chief financial officer Maggie Wu first announced in May. That kind of growth will probably help Alibaba to exceed its global competitors, she added.

With $ 80 billion of strategic investments planted, Vice President Joe Tsai said the company was far from finished with deals. Some of Alibaba's most expensive investments have been made by Mr. Zhang – including at least $ US8 billion in deals for traditional chains that support efforts to reinvent retail in China.

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