HONG KONG (Reuters) – The escalating trade war between the United States and China is careening toward a “cold war or geopolitical war” that will reverberate around the world, a senior executive at Alibaba Group (BABA.N) has said.
Joe Tsai, Alibaba’s executive vice chairman, accused the United States of starting the trade war over “an unfounded fear” that China’s rise threatened the national security of the American people, the South China Morning Post said on Thursday.
Tsai was speaking at a conference hosted by the newspaper in Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday, a day after U.S. President Donald Trump repeated his threat to slap tariffs on an additional $267 billion of Chinese imports.
Alibaba, China’s biggest e-commerce firm, owns the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post.
“It is really ill-advised for the United States to launch a war of some sort targeting China, thinking that they can treat China like the way they treated Russia by isolating the economy and bringing on pain,” Tsai was quoted as saying.
“We are so integrated that the pain is going to be felt all over the world,” he added.
Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma told the conference via video link that he believed the United States would “suffer more” from the dispute, the newspaper said.
Ma said in September trade frictions between the world’s two largest economies could last for two decades and would be “a mess” for all parties involved.
Ma had a high-profile meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump last year where Ma promised to create one million jobs in the United States linked to small merchants selling items on Alibaba platforms.
Trade relations have since deteriorated between China and the United States in a tit-for-tat escalation in tariffs.
Reporting By Anne Marie Roantree; editing by Darren Schuettler