Illustration: Liu Rui/GT
Alibaba's Executive Chairman Jack Ma on Monday met with US President-elect Donald Trump
to discuss the e-commerce company's US expansion plans. The company said in a statement that Alibaba will create one million jobs by enabling one million American small businesses and farmers to sell US goods on the Internet platform for the next five years.
Trump already had similar meetings with Asian businessmen like Japanese tech giant SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son in December. Son pledged to increase investment in the US, creating 50,000 jobs. But Ma's investment plan seems to have overtaken all others.
Since elected, Trump has made creating jobs for Americans a top priority in his policy, as his campaign suggested. While he questioned the one-China policy after having an unprecedented phone call with Taiwan leader Tsai Ing-wen, he still hoped that China could make concessions over trading with the US.
Many observers doubt that Trump's harsh stance on China mainly aims to increase the US leverage against China so that China can take a step back to help create more jobs for the US.
The Chinese side must have maintained communication with Trump's transition team. But Ma is the first Chinese mainlander that met with Trump in public, and perhaps one of the few Chinese entrepreneurs that Trump is keen to meet, given the possible boom Ma can bring to the American job market.
Alibaba, the Chinese online retail giant, is one of the most active players in China's "Internet plus" strategy and an important force in pushing forward China's societal development. But Ma went to the US in a bid to seek expansion, not to pay tribute. He has formed a business landscape that is based in China and is now eyeing the global market. If the company can succeed in its US expansion, it will bind the two economies closely and set a new example of win-win cooperation for both countries.
Trump and Ma were both satisfied with the meeting and commended each other. In particular, Trump said, "Jack and I are going to do some great things." This unavoidably concerns the economy of China and the US.
In modern times, economic cooperation must be mutually beneficial. An economic partnership that benefits only one side will not go long.
Alibaba's expansion into the US will revitalize US small businesses and boost American agriculture, and in this process China won't lose jobs. Alibaba seemingly intends to reshape the global business network. If it succeeds, it will be an unprecedented interdependent relationship that all countries can benefit from.
As long as Washington changes its mind-set, quite a few Chinese enterprises are willing to enter the US market. They will not only sell products in the US, but also help create jobs in the country. Take Huawei, a Chinese telecom firm which has long been kept out of the US market.
Furthermore, Washington has imposed severe restrictions on its export to China, which reduced opportunities for US high-tech companies to create high-income jobs on its own soil.
It is very short-sighted for some Americans to believe that the US has suffered losses in its economic and trade cooperation with China. The international division of labor takes shape naturally, which cannot be forced from the outside. If the US wants to force more companies to bring their manufacturing back home, which does not fit the US anymore, it will be like China forcing to place costly chips made by outdated technology into telephones and computers.
Perhaps Trump needs to do business with China more rationally. In that case, it will be easier for him to pursue US interests based on objective judgment and win-win cooperation. A tough stance is never a short cut toward prosperity.
On the other hand, finding what will be mutually beneficial and being able to utilize it is bound to be the driving force in international relations of the 21st century.The article is an editorial of the Chinese edition of the Global Times Tuesday. email@example.com