Alibaba Group co-founder Jack Ma cautioned China's business and political leaders to prepare for the trade war with the U.S. to last longer and have a bigger impact than most people think. Now Ma is dialing that back.
In a Xinhua News Agency interview published Tuesday, the billionaire business magnate said the jobs promise - originally floated early a year ago - had been predicated on a "friendly U.S". -China trade becoming increasingly contentious, the promise can not be fulfilled.
Trump on Monday imposed 10 percent tariffs on about $200 billion worth of imports from China, and threatened duties on about $267 billion (£203 billion) more if China retaliated.
Ma: "It's going to be a mess".
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Ma announced earlier this month that he would step down as chairman of the country's top e-commerce company next September and focus more on philanthropy. China promptly reacted, announcing new trade tariffs on $60 billion of USA goods.
Ma made his original job creation pronouncement during a high-profile meeting with Donald Trump in January 2017 before Trump's inauguration.
Ma met with USA president Donald Trump previous year in a high-profile meeting where he promised to create 1 million USA jobs linked to small merchants selling items on Alibaba platforms.
In April Ma doubled down on his pledge, claiming 10 million jobs could be created "if China and the USA maintain good trade relations".
While promising to "promote the healthy development" of Sino-US trade, the 54-year-old entrepreneur noted that the "previous basis for trade has been undermined", amid ongoing trade conflict between the world's two largest economies. "China partnership and the rational and objective premise of bilateral trade".
Ma has previously been critical of the protectionist moves from the Trump administration and said Wednesday that trade should not be used as a weapon, but rather as a way to bring peace between countries.
Alibaba shares are down 1% to $157.23.