Trump's Trade War With China Will Last for 20 Years, Warns Alibaba Chief Jack Ma

The trade war sparked by President Donald Trump will outlast his presidency, China's richest man has warned.

Jack Ma, the founder and executive chairman of Alibaba Group, said that the dispute could last for 20 years and would have an impact on trade and business throughout the world, including Europe.

His comments followed Beijing's pledge to retaliate against Washington's plans to slap $200 billion worth of tariffs on Chinese products.

Alibaba Group co-founder and chief executive Jack Ma at the World Artificial Intelligence Conference in Shanghai, China, September 17. He warned the trade war between China and the U.S. could last 20 years, long after President Donald Trump leaves office. REUTERS/Aly Song

"Short term, business communities in China, U.S., Europe will all be in trouble. This thing will last long. If you want a short-term solution, there is no solution," he said during a speech at Alibaba's investor day conference in Hangzhou, according to Bloomberg.

Ma, who announced last week that he would step down and hand the company reins to chief executive Daniel Zhang, said that China should now seek closer trade ties with other parts of the world, such as Southeast Asia and Africa.

"You may win the battle, but you lose the war. Middle term, a lot of Chinese business will move to other countries," he said.

"Even if Donald Trump retired, the new president will come, it will still continue... We need new trade rules, we need to upgrade the WTO," he said, according to Reuters.

Ma's is just the latest dire forecast made following the trade spat. Last week, Lenovo CEO Yuanqing Yang warned the trade war was bad for both the economy and consumers, saying, "We should see the two governments sit down and reach an agreement."

The Chinese Ministry of Commerce said it had "no choice" but to retaliate, without specifying further, Business Insider reported.

Trump signs China tariff
U.S. President Donald Trump holds up a signed presidential memorandum aimed at what he calls "Chinese economic aggression" in the Roosevelt Room at the White House on March 22. Mark Wilson/Getty Images

The ministry has previously threatened tariffs on $60 billion worth of U.S. goods, or between 85 percent and 95 percent of American imports coming to China.

But tariffs have left many voters worried about economic damage and more expensive goods, according to polls.

A recent NBC News poll found that one-fourth of voters believed raising tariffs would do more to protect American jobs and help the U.S. economy. But about half of voters said duties would raise the costs of goods or hurt the economy.

Trump tweeted on Tuesday: "China has been taking advantage of the United States on trade for many years. They also know that I am the one that knows how to stop it. There will be great and fast economic retaliation against China if our farmers, ranchers and/or industrial workers are targeted!"