Jack Ma(R), the billionaire founder and executive chairman of the Alibaba Group, met with US president-elect Donald Trump(L) on Monday. [Photo \ Agencies]
Jack Ma, the billionaire founder and executive chairman of the Alibaba Group, met with US president-elect Donald Trump on Monday, and Trump said they had a "great meeting".
"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 said from Trump Tower in New York City. "Jack and I are going to do some great things."
Ma and Trump met with reporters briefly after the meeting and said they discussed plans to create 1 million US jobs by allowing small and medium-sized businesses to sell to China through the company's platforms.
"We're focused on small business," Ma told reporters.
The meeting was planned to focus on the Chinese e-commerce company's US expansion plans, according to spokespeople for both Alibaba and Trump. Ma had planned to be in New York City on Monday and the scheduling worked out for the meeting, a source told CNBC.
The meeting comes amid tensions between China and the incoming Trump administration. Trump has repeatedly criticized China for its economic policies and accused the country of stealing jobs away from the US. Trump also has said he may raise tariffs on Chinese goods sold in the US.
"We also think that the China and USA relationship should be strengthened — should be more friendly," Ma said. "The door is open for discussing the relationship and trade issues. I think the president-elect is very smart, he's very open-minded to listen. I told him my ideas about how to improve trade, especially to improve small business, cross border trade."
Ma told reporters at Trump Tower that the two discussed allowing US products such as "garments, wine and fruit" to be sold on the platform. Additionally, Ma said that the discussion included talk on the need for China and US to improve their relationship.
Alibaba has been planning to expand more aggressively into the US. The company has expanded its New York City US headquarters and it has been making a push for international participation in its signature Singles' Day sale.
Alibaba, which focuses more heavily on enabling third-party sellers, had 36,446 full-time employees as of March 31, 2016, according to SEC filings. Amazon, by comparison, about 230,800 employees as of the end of 2015, though it creates other jobs through its sellers, contractors and supporting services.
Alibaba stock was up 1.5% in early trading Monday following news of the meeting.