Jack Ma, founder of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, is withdrawing his promise of creating a million jobs in the United States. Ma is doing this to respond to the escalating trade war between China and the US, which is entering a new phase next week.
Heavy import levies
When Alibaba's top executive visited Trump on January 11, 2017, he solemnly promised the freshly elected president of the US to create a million American jobs. In addition, he would be making it easier for small American companies to sell their products in China through his online platforms. This was music to Trump's ears, who intended to turn job creation into a key point of his policy.
At the time, a number of American experts had their doubts. Harley Lewin of the New York-based law firm McCarter & English formulated it rather colourfully: "Ma is a PR genius and Trump is a sucker for anyone kissing his you-know-what". It now looks like those experts have been vindicated, as Ma has withdrawn his promise in an interview with Chinese press agency Xinhua. He puts the blame squarely on the American government: "That promise was based on a fertile partnership between China and the United States and on rational trade relations. The current situation is very different."
According to Ma himself, this is his response to the latest volley fired by president Trump in the trade conflict with China: from September 24 onwards, the US is charging 10% import levies to goods from China for a value of 200 billion dollars. In January 2019 the levy will be raised to 25%.