By David Meyer
October 10, 2018

In the new “Cold War” between the U.S. and China, the U.S. seems to be winning so far—the dollar is booming while the renminbi is sinking, and the Americans have a lot more Chinese imports they can penalize with tariffs than China does American imports.

However, according to Jack Ma—the founder and outgoing executive chairman of Chinese tech titan Alibaba—it’s the U.S. that will end up losing out. Speaking at the South China Morning Post‘s China Conference in Kuala Lumpur, Ma said the U.S. would “suffer more” and there was no logic behind the U.S.’s mass deployment of tariffs as a solution to the countries’ trade imbalance.

Alibaba executive vice-president Joe Tsai also spoke, saying the U.S. was reacting to its “unfounded fear that China’s rise is somehow going to threaten the national security and well-being of the American people.”

“It is really ill-advised for the United States to launch a war of some sort…thinking that they can treat China like the way they treated Russia by isolating the economy and bringing on pain,” Tsai said, as reported by the Post. “We are so integrated that the pain is going to be felt all over the world. Everybody is going to feel the pain.”

Ma has already made it clear that he is no fan of President Donald Trump’s trade war against China. Last month he declared that Alibaba would not follow through on an earlier (and poorly defined) promise to create a million new jobs in the U.S. because “the current situation has already destroyed the original premise” for that pledge.

However, the timing of the Alibaba execs’ latest broadside is a little unfortunate, coming as it does after Bloomberg‘s contentious report about the Chinese military allegedly sneaking spy chips onto servers destined for use in the U.S. military and American corporations.

Although some players such as Apple and Amazon have strongly asserted that the report was inaccurate, its effect on share prices in the Chinese tech sector shows there are very real fears about China’s dominant position in tech manufacturing posing a threat to U.S. national security—and fears about what the backlash to that threat could mean for Chinese tech firms.

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