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Alibaba tells Trump we 'support American brands'

BBC Technology 21 Aug 2020 05:29
Alibaba's logo at the company's headquarters in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province.Image copyright Reuters

Alibaba has moved to ease tensions with Donald Trump, as the US president continues to threaten Chinese firms.

Chief executive Daniel Zhang said the online retailer's policies "support American brands, retailers, small businesses and farmers".

The comments came as the tech giant announced a better-than-expected jump in quarterly sales.

Meanwhile Mr Trump has promised to impose tariffs on US firms that refuse to move jobs back from overseas.

Earlier this month US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called on American technology firms to cut ties with Chinese companies, including cloud-computing providers Alibaba, Tencent and Baidu as part of the Trump administration's so-called "Clean Network" programme.

It came as Mr Trump signed two executive orders targeting Chinese-owned video-sharing app TikTok and messaging platform WeChat.

"Alibaba's primary commercial focus in the US is to support American brands, retailers, small businesses and farmers to sell to consumers and trade partners in China as well as other key markets around the world," Mr Zhang told investors.

Alibaba's shares have soared by more than 20% this year as investors around the world poured money into technology companies seen to have benefited from people staying at home during the coronavirus pandemic.

In fact, the company said as much during its earnings call - attributing the jump in revenue to China's "effective management" of the outbreak in much of the country.

In the midst of lockdowns, people flocked online to buy things like yoga mats and face masks.

But the pandemic also pushed more people online to buy their groceries, and it's a trend that's continued in a post-coronavirus China.

The placatory comments from Alibaba's boss came in a week that has seen Mr Trump using his election campaign speeches to threaten further action to push back against China.

"We will give tax credits to companies to bring jobs back to America, and if they don't do it, we will put tariffs on those companies, and they will have to pay us a lot of money," he said.

He also threatened to strip US government contracts from companies that continue to outsource work to China.

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