Alibaba’s Jack Ma urges Trump and Xi to back away from trade war

Key Points
  • Alibaba founder Jack Ma says friction between U.S. and China to be expected.
  • The billionaire adds that problems do not need a trade war to fix them.
  • China has announced plans to further open up its economy.
Jack Ma, co-founder and executive chairman of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.
Bloomberg | Getty

Jack Ma, the billionaire founder of Alibaba, has said some friction between the U.S. and China should be expected and any trade war would offer no solution.

Markets have reacted with uncertainty in recent weeks to a series of trade threats between Washington and Beijing. Speaking at the Boao Forum for Asia Tuesday, Chinese President Xi Jinping outlined plans to further open up the Chinese economy, which some have interpreted as an effort to improve relations.

Speaking at the same forum, Ma urged countries to resist inward-looking policies and said trade is not simply about goods but about respecting other cultures.

Ma said it is only natural that the United States and China, as the world's top two economies and biggest trading partners, would encounter problems, but a trade war is not the right remedy.

"They have problems, but it is not a problem that should be addressed by using trade war," said Ma.

"It is just like catching the flu or a cold, it's a problem. But it is not a problem where you need chemotherapy."

Ma said that under a good trading relationship, Alibaba can help boost 10 million or even 20 million jobs in the U.S. He added that China's middle class would continue to grow and consume, which could only be a positive for the United States.

Ma said in any case "nobody can stop globalization," but it should be improved to include benefits for developing countries, young people, and small businesses.