Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland on Wednesday, Chinese billionaire Jack Ma accused the United States of spending too much money on foreign wars and risky financial speculation and not enough money “on your own people.”
The founder of the world’s largest retailer, Alibaba, was addressing a question posed by CNBC‘s Andrew Ross Sorkin about the U.S. economy in relation to China.
In response, Ma said the U.S. should stop blaming other countries and look at its own spending priorities:
“It’s not that other countries steal jobs from you guys,” Ma said. “It’s your strategy. You did not distribute the money and things in a proper way.”
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“It’s not that other countries steal jobs from you guys. It’s your strategy. You did not distribute the money and things in a proper way.”He said the U.S. has wasted over $14 trillion in fighting wars over the past 30 years rather than investing in infrastructure at home.
Ma said that when Thomas Friedman published the 2005 pro-globalization tribute The World is Flat, taking advantage of the world economy seemed like “a perfect strategy” for the U.S.
“We just want the technology, and the IP, and the brand, and we’ll leave the other jobs” to other countries like Mexico and China, he said, according to Business Insider. “American international companies made millions and millions of dollars from globalization.”
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“The past 30 years, IBM, Cisco, Microsoft, they’ve made tens of millions—the profits they’ve made are much more than the four Chinese banks put together,” he continued. “But where did the money go?”
“The money goes to Wall Street. Then what happened? Year 2008 wiped out $19.2 trillion in U.S. income,” he said. What’s more, he added, “In the past 30 years, America had 13 wars spending $14.2 trillion…no matter how good your strategy is you’re supposed to spend money on your own people.”
“What if the money was spent on the Midwest of the United States?” he asked. “What if they had spent part of that money on building up their infrastructure, helping white-collar and blue-collar workers? You’re supposed to spend money on your own people.”
While he did emphasize that globalization is a good thing, according to CNBC, Ma reportedly noted that it “‘should be inclusive,’ with the spoils not just going to the wealthy few.”
Ma’s critique came weeks after he attended a meeting in New York City with President-elect Donald Trump, who has threatened to impose punitive tariffs against the Asian superpower.
When asked about that conversation, the internet tycoon “said the consequences of a trade war between the world’s biggest and second-largest economies would be too grave for both countries to bear and they should do everything to avoid it,” reported the South China Morning Post, which Ma owns.
“It’s so easy to launch a war. It’s so difficult, almost impossible sometimes, to terminate that war,” he said. “The Iraq war, the Afghanistan war, are those finished?”