President-elect Donald Trump has met with Jack Ma, the founder of Chinese online retail business Alibaba, to discuss the company's investment of 1 million jobs in the U.S.
On Jan. 9, Trump met with Ma at his Trump Tower in Manhattan, New York. Following their meeting, Trump spoke highly of the Alibaba founder.
"We had a great meeting, and a great, great entrepreneur, one of the best in the world, and he loves this country, and he loves China," Trump told reporters at Trump Tower, according to CNBC. "Jack and I are going to do some great things."
Ma elaborated that his company would expand in the U.S., aiming to bring 1 million jobs over the next five years by establishing increased trade between Midwestern Americans and Asia.
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"We're focused on small business," Ma said. "We specifically talked about… supporting 1 million small businesses, especially in the Midwest of America. Small businesses on the platform selling products -- agriculture products and America services -- to China and Asia, because we're pretty big in Asia."
Ma added that he hoped the U.S. would improve its diplomatic relationship with China, a sentiment that is in stark contrast with Trump's pledges to be impose stiff tariffs on the U.S. competitor.
"We also think that the China and USA relationship should be strengthened -- should be more friendly," Ma continued. "The door is open… I think the president-elect is very smart, he's very open-minded to listen… [Trump] has concerns, and he has solutions, that he wants to discuss with China and us."
One source familiar with the meeting between Trump and Ma suggested that it was brokered by Michael Evans, president of Alibaba Group, who is an acquaintance of the president-elect. Shortly after the meeting, Alibaba issued a statement cementing the company's commitment to creating jobs in the U.S.
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"Alibaba will create 1 million U.S. jobs by enabling 1 million American small businesses and farmers to sell American goods to China and Asian consumers on the Alibaba platform," the statement read.
Alibaba is an e-commerce company, similar to the U.S.-based Amazon. The online retail giant is not without controversy, however. In early 2016, the Securities and Exchange Commission launched an investigation into the company on suspicion of illegal accounting practices, Reuters reports.
Ma's company has also been dogged by associations with groups accused of peddling counterfeit items. In December 2016, U.S. trade officials listed Taobao, an Alibaba platform, as a counterfeit market, SFGATE reports.
The controversy over Alibaba's transparency and its sale of fake items has resulted in its stock value decreasing throughout 2016. Shortly after Ma met with Trump, the company's stock rose by a percentage point.