(Yicai Global) Jan. 19 -- Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. Chairman Jack Ma echoed Chinese President Xi Jinping's keynote speech in Davos in which China's head of state delivered a strong defense of globalization.
"A trade war would be a disaster for the world," Ma said during a panel discussion yesterday at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. "It's very easy to slip into a trade war."
"China and the US should never have a trade war, will never have a trade war," Ma said. "I think we should give President-elect Donald Trump some time -- he's open-minded, he's listening."
President Xi yesterday used his hour-long address to take several sideswipes at Trump, criticizing his protectionist views without mentioning him by name. During and since the US presidential election campaign, Trump has argued for protectionism, feeding the view that globalization has led to more pain than gain, and has even threatened to levy a 45 percent tariff on Chinese-made goods.
"Many of the problems troubling the world are not caused by economic globalization," Xi said in Davos. "Just blaming economic globalization for the world's problems is inconsistent with reality, and it will not help solve the problems."
Ma, China's second-richest man, met with billionaire tycoon Trump in New York last week to discuss how Alibaba, the world's biggest e-commerce company, can create one million new jobs in the US over the next five years. Employment is a key concern of the incoming administration.
After their 40-minute meeting at Trump Tower, neither Ma nor Trump said anything about a coming trade war between the world's two biggest economies. "The door is open ... [for] discussing the relationship and trade issues," Ma told US broadcaster CNBC immediately after the meeting. "We also think that the China and USA relationship should be strengthened, should be more friendly." Today, Ma is taking Xi's side, defending globalization and arguing against protectionism.
Wang Jianlin, China's richest man, said at Davos that his Dalian Wanda Group Co., China's biggest commercial real estate company, plans to invest between USD5 billion to USD10 billion in overseas markets each year, with the US his top priority.
"Wang said his company would not be affected by the tension between the two sides because Trump would not block money going into the United States," Reuters reported after speaking with Wang on the sidelines of the WEF.
As Xi Jinping did yesterday, Wang Jianlin today voiced his concerns and sounded a warning over potentially increased US government controls on Chinese investment during a debate.