When Billionaires Collide

Jack Ma, the billionaire founder and chairman of Alibaba, met with U.S. President-elect Donald Trump to offer 1 million jobs in the U.S. by using his e-commerce platform to help American companies sell goods & services in China.

Trump’s (and by implication his future government’s) stance on the U.S. One-China Policy has become dangerously unclear. His controversial and protocol-breaking phone call with the Taiwanese president Tsai Ing-Wen, along with his Party’s efforts to pass the “Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act”, have severely compromised relations between two countries with irreconcilable political differences.

Representatives of the Chinese government have already hit back. According to CNN, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang responded to Trump’s remarks about the potential dissolution of the U.S.’s “One-China” policy:

“The ‘One China’ principle is the political foundation of Sino-US relations and it is non-negotiable. We urge the relevant side in the US to recognize the high sensitivity of the Taiwan issue and abide by the pledges by successive US administrations from both parties…There is only one China in the world. Taiwan is an inseparable part of Chinese territory and the People’s Republic of China is the sole legitimate government representing China. These are facts recognized by the international community and no one can change this.”

Ultimately, Trump’s meeting with Ma is clearly a ploy of business diplomacy aimed to improve precarious China-U.S. ties. But how do we understand the motivations on both ends? Is Ma concerned primarily with profit, or does he seek to wield political influence abroad as well?  Is this another one of Trump’s moves in an elaborate game of political flip-flop on Sino-U.S. relations?

Image Credit: Wall Street Journal


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