Take your pick as to which of these statements from Alibaba founder Jack Ma is gloomier: He's going back on his pledge to create 1 million US jobs, and the US-China trade war that he blames for that plan's undoing is one that he believes could last two decades. "It's going to last long, it's going to be a mess," the Chinese tech billionaire said Tuesday. He addressed the jobs plan, made after he met with then president-elect Donald Trump in January 2017, on Wednesday: "This promise was on the basis of friendly China-US cooperation and reasonable bilateral trade relations, but the current situation has already destroyed that basis. This promise can't be completed."
CNN provides background, explaining Ma's "vague promise" didn't involve building Alibaba facilities in the US, but rather by helping fire up small US businesses by enabling them to better tap into the Chinese market. The Wall Street Journal also uses the word "vague" to describe how critics viewed Ma's pledge, observing that, nearly two years later, Alibaba hasn't released any figures related to the number of jobs created thus far. Count the Washington Post among those critics. It points out that based on Commerce Department figures, 1 million new American jobs would require that US exports to China rise by an additional $206 billion a year. That's a more than 100% jump over 2017's $188 billion in exports, a figure that encompasses things that wouldn't benefit from Alibaba's platform, like airplanes. (Read more Jack Ma stories.)