'If trade stops, war starts,' Alibaba CEO Jack Ma warns

Jack Ma, the CEO of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, has issued a warning as U.S. President Donald Trump pursues a more protectionist stance on trade.

Ma met with Trump last month in NYC

Alibaba executive chairman Jack Ma, pictured in here in Jan. 2017, has suggested conflict could result if the flow of trade stops. (Ruben Sprich/Reuters)

Jack Ma, the CEO of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, has issued a warning as U.S. President Donald Trump pursues a more protectionist stance on trade.

"If trade stops, war starts," Ma said over the weekend in Melbourne, Australia.

"We have to actively prove that trade helps people to communicate. And we should have fair trade, transparent trade, inclusive trade," Ma said, according to published reports.

Speaking Saturday at the launch of Alibaba's headquarters for its Australian and New Zealand operations, Ma said, "the world needs globalization, it needs to trade."

"Trade is about trade of values. Trade of culture," he said.

Ma's comments come against a backdrop of Trump causing upheaval in trade relations with his anti-globalization stance.

One of Trump's first actions following his inauguration was to sign an executive order pulling the United States out of the Trans Pacific Partnership. He has also threatened to impose tariffs on goods imported into the U.S. and said he wants to speed up plans for a renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico.

Back in January, Ma, who is one of China's wealthiest people, met with Trump prior to the latter's inauguration. Alibaba tweeted at the time that the two talked about a plan to create a million jobs in the U.S. by allowing small- and medium-sized firms to sell into the Chinese market through Alibaba's platforms.