Alibaba executive vice chairman Joseph Tsai said Tuesday he expects to boost US jobs by expanding the Chinese firm's e-commerce platform—not by hiring American workers.
Tsai, speaking at a California tech conference, made the comments to follow up on a headline-grabbing pledge earlier this year by Alibaba founder Jack Ma and US President Donald Trump that the Chinese internet firm would create one million US jobs.
The pledge by Ma was seen at the time as more of a public relations move than a promise to hire in the US.
When asked what Alibaba was doing to deliver on the promise, Tsai responded that giving merchants in China an online platform to boost sales indirectly created tens of millions of jobs in that country.
"We believe we can bring the same idea—bring a platform here to let American companies sell to Chinese consumers," Tsai said during an on-stage interview at the WSJD Live conference in Laguna Beach, California.
"It is not direct job creation in (that) we are going out and hiring employees. Given the leverage here, we think that is how we can go out and create a million jobs."
Alibaba boasts more than a half-billion customers, most of them using mobile devices. Sometimes referred to as the Amazon of China, Alibaba is a force in e-commerce, cloud computing and digital entertainment.
"Our peer in the US, Amazon, they seem to have gobbled up a whole lot of foods," Tsai responded playfully when asked whether Alibaba was out to "eat everything" when it came to expanding into new markets.
"Maybe, if you look at that you can find some mirror image of what we are doing."
For now, Alibaba is still "swimming in its own little pond," and its international expansion is focused on enabling its customers in China to do business abroad, according to Tsai.
It faces dominant local competitors such as Amazon and eBay.
China's largest online shopping portal went on the defensive after the office of the US Trade Representative put its massive electronic sales platform Taobao on its annual blacklist, saying it was not doing enough to curb sales of fake and pirated goods.
Although inclusion on the blacklist carries no penalties in itself, it dealt a blow to Alibaba's efforts to improve its image and boost international sales.
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