Jack Ma warns that trade war will drag on for decades

Alibaba chairman Jack Ma and Apple CEO Tim Cook

Alibaba chairman Jack Ma and Apple CEO Tim Cook

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Jack Ma, co-founder of Chinese e-tech giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, said on Thursday that people should make preparations for 20 years of China-US trade frictions.

Under that succession plan, Zhang will be promoted to executive chairman on September 10 next year, while Ma will remain a director on Alibaba's board and a permanent member of the Alibaba Partnership, according to a letter to all staff including the South China Morning Post, which is wholly owned by the New York-traded company.

In this January 9, 2017 photo, then President-elect Donald Trump stands with Alibaba Executive Chairman Jack Ma as they walk to speak with reporters after a meeting at Trump Tower in NY.

One million jobs would be close to 1 per cent of all jobs in the U.S. - meaning that successfully delivering on the pledge would make Alibaba one of the country's largest private employers.

Tensions have escalated this week as China vowed to retaliate against United States plans to levy tariffs on about $200 billion (RM828 billion) in Chinese goods.

Ma referred to this continuing trade debacle in a call on Tuesday with investors as a "mess".

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Jack Ma had said a lot of businesses in China and the United States will be in trouble in the short term.

But the trade dispute between the world´s top two economies has swiftly escalated since Trump took office, with a series of tit-for-tat tariffs brought on billions of dollars´ worth of goods by both countries.

"Trade is not a weapon for war, but a propeller of peace", Ma said.

While Ma had not detailed how he would add those jobs, he has said that he wanted to encourage American small businesses to sell on Alibaba marketplace Tmall and Taobao, reasoning that every new business that joined the platform would have to hire a person to manage the extra sales.

For years, Ma has been pushing his vision of US small businesses selling to Chinese shoppers through his online marketplaces, but many experts have criticized his plan.

He has expressed a desire to follow in the philanthropic footsteps of Microsoft founder Bill Gates.

"I'm just 54, and I still have at least 16 years to do something new", Mr Ma told Xinhua. "It´s exciting to have more than a dozen years to take on a new career".

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