Jack Ma and Donald Trump pose after their meeting at Trump Tower in January. Ma has shown a shrewd sense of how he can help China's leaders. Photo: AFP/Timothy A Clary

China’s richest man and Alibaba founder, Jack Ma hosted a summit of business groups in Washington this week, stressing the need for businesses to take the lead in the US-China trade relationship.

The talks come as Trump promotes his “Made in America”-themed week, and following Ma’s high-profile meeting with then president-elect Trump last winter.

Co-hosted by Blackstone CEO Stephen Schwarzman, the event includes a daylong meeting between Chinese business leaders and leaders of 12 US firms with operations in China.

In a short Chinese language press conference before the meeting, Ma emphasized the need for both countries to take a forward-looking approach to the bilateral relationship.

From a translation of Ma’s remarks from Charlotte Gao at the Diplomat:

Regarding U.S.-China relations, Ma said:

Over the past decades, our two countries have advanced far past a simple trading and investment relationship. It is much more than “made in America” or “made in China.” Our relationship today reflects a deep business partnership where capital, people, and ideas are fully integrated.

Finally, he proposed to that his U.S. counterparts “look forward, not backward”:

I encourage us all to not let problems of the past limit our future potential. As in all deep and complex economic relationships, disputes whether on trade or investment are natural and expected. In these areas, we should encourage our governments to use existing mechanisms to resolve these disputes respectfully and efficiently.

List of attendees at summit:

[Chinese Attendees]

  • Jack MA,Co-Chairman, U.S.-China Business Leaders Summit, Executive Chairman, Alibaba Group
  • YU Xubo, President, COFCO Corporation
  • WANG Yusuo, Chairman, ENN Group
  • TIAN Guoli, Chairman, Bank of China
  • Frank NING, Chairman of the Board, Sinochem Group
  • ZHANG Jindong, Chairman, Suning Holdings Group
  • TU Guangshao, Vice Chairman and President, China Investment Corporation
  • CHO Tak Wong, Chairman, Fuyao Glass Industry Co., Ltd

[U.S. Attendees]

  • Stephen A. Schwarzman,  Co-Chairman, US-China Business Leaders Summit; Chairman, CEO and Co-Founder, The Blackstone Group L.P.
  • Mary T. Barra, Chairman and CEO, General Motors Company
  • Jamie Dimon, Chairman and CEO, JPMorgan Chase & Co.
  • Alex Gorsky, Chairman and CEO, Johnson & Johnson
  • Maurice R. Greenberg, Chairman and CEO, C.V. Starr & Co. Inc.
  • Thomas P. Hayes, CEO, Tyson Foods
  • Jeffrey R. Immelt, Chairman and CEO, General Electric (GE)
  • Ryan Lance, Chairman and CEO, ConocoPhillips
  • Doug McMillon, President and CEO, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.
  • Ginni Rometty, Chairman, President and CEO, IBM
  • Jay Timmons, President and CEO, National Association of Manufacturers
  • Jim Umpleby, CEO, Caterpillar Inc..