Jack Ma, Executive Chairman of Alibaba Group addresses during the welcome ceremony of Gateway 17 in Detroit, the United States, June 20, 2017. (Xinhua/Wang Ping)
Air Traffic was jammed and hotels were full in the U.S. city of Detroit on Monday when more than 3,000 business representatives flocked in for the Gateway 17 conference, Aibaba's biggest-ever public event, in the United States.
Addressing to thousands of entrepreneurs at the two-day session, Jack Ma, the founder and chairman of the Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, educated owners of U.S. small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) on marketing their companies to Chinese consumers.
"For me CEO has a different meaning -- Chief Education Officer," he joked.
WHY CHINESE MARKET
"If you miss China, you miss the future," Ma told the group of entrepreneurs at Cobo Center in Detroit.
He emphasized in his keynote speech the importance for U.S. businesses to tap into the huge Chinese market.
Indeed, Chinese consumers are shopping around the world. Cross-border retail e-commerce spending in China is expected to grow six-fold to 245 billion U.S. dollars between 2015 and 2020, according to AliResearch and Accenture.
Meanwhile, China has the highest share of e-commerce sales and total retail sales in the world, according to eMarketer, a New York-based market research company. E-commerce sales in China are expected to account for 37 percent of total retail spending worldwide by 2020, data from eMarketer showed.
The more than 500 million consumers on Alibaba's platforms are upgrading their lifestyles and yearning for high-quality American products, resulting in a drastic increase in online shopping, with the majority of which conducted through mobile devices.
Ma said domestic consumption in China has played a leading role in boosting the country's economic growth which would drive the world economy in the next decades to come.
He is confident that Alibaba will be able to create 1 million jobs in the United States in the next five years by helping 1 million small U.S. businesses sell their products to China and Southeast Asia.
In California alone, Alibaba has already helped create more than 20,000 jobs, said Ma.
"We are made in China but we are made for global," said Ma. Globalization and free trade rules that were designed for big companies and developed countries need to be changed to benefit small businesses, young entrepreneurs and farmers around the world, he added.
Ma pledged that Alibaba would be dedicated to helping SMEs to go global as it always did over the past 18 years.
JACK MA'S CHARISMA
On the second day of the conference, Ma met with his old friend Bruce Thelen, a veteran attorney who left his post in Wall Street in 1980 for a trip around the world.