Alibaba Creator Jack Ma said his Tough pledge to Make one million jobs in the US had been scuppered by the trade row between Beijing and Washington, Chinese state news reported Thursday.
The billionaire owner of China’s largest online shopping portal made the headline-grabbing guarantee to Donald Trump this past year, as Beijing courted the then-newly president.
But Ma told official news agency Xinhua his vow had been made on the basis of continued cooperation and trade growth between the US and China, and could now be hard to satisfy.
“The current state of affairs has already ruined the assumption the promise was made on,” Ma said in an interview on Tuesday.
“There is not any way to fulfill the promise, but we won’t stop our hard job to promote the healthy development of China-US trade.”
Ma’s bold promise after his January 2017 assembly 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 will be close to a percent of all occupations in the United States – meaning that successfully delivering would make Alibaba among the country’s largest private employers.
Ma at April doubled down on his pledge, asserting 10 million jobs could be created”if China and the US maintain decent trade relations”.
But the dispute between the world’s best two economies has escalated because Trump took office, using a series of tit-for-tat tariffs levied on billions of dollars’ worth of goods by both nations.
Last week Trump said he would press forward with 10 percent levies about $200 billion of imports – along with $50 billion targeted – prompting Beijing to target another $60 billion of US goods with five to 10% earnings.
Ma pointed to business opportunities in different areas like Europe, South America, Russia and Africa,” Xinhua said.
They still have many chances regardless of the trade frictions between China and the US,” Ma explained.
“Trade is not a weapon and can’t be utilized for wars,” he added. “Trade should be the propeller of peace.”
Ma declared this month he’d step down as head of this pioneering Chinese e-commerce giant next year, handing over to CEO and anointed successor Daniel Zhang.
He’s expressed a desire to follow in the footsteps of Microsoft founder Bill Gates.
“I’m only 54, and I have 16 years to do something new,” Ma told Xinhua. “It’s exciting to have over a couple of years to have a new profession .”