Chinese businessman, Jack Ma, the founder of the online e-commerce giant Alibaba, has been appointed by Primer Minister David Cameron as a business advisor, Downing Street announced on Monday.
The Alibaba boss will “provide particular help and advice on how to get small and medium sized British businesses boosting their exports and in particular accessing Chinese markets through platforms like Alibaba”.
Mr Cameron’s spokeswoman added: “This is about appointing someone who has real business experience and understanding of the Chinese market.”
The Alibaba platform “offers up huge opportunities for smaller businesses to get into the Chinese market”, she said.
Ma, the second richest man in mainland China (worth $23 billion), is the first person without any obvious connections to the UK to join Cameron’s business advisory group. Other prominent chief executives in the group include Bob Dudley of BP, Nigel Wilson of Legal & General, Carolyn McCall of easyJet and Jayne-Anne Ghadia of Virgin Money.
The announcement comes as the UK tries to strengthen business relations with China. The Chinese President Xi Jinping is visiting Britain tomorrow for a four day state visit.
Mr Cameron told China Central Television: “I think it’s a real opportunity to deepen our relationship and I’m delighted President Xi is spending so much time here in the UK,”
Both Cameron and George Osborne have stressed that the UK would benefit greatly from close ties with the world’s second largest economy.
Osborne said that he expects China to be the UK’s second largest trading partner by 2025. Last month, during his trip to China, he said: “We are building an ever closer relationship with China – it’s a partnership that is set to unleash growth and help regions like Xinjiang, where we know investment can make a real difference, as well as unleash new growth back home,”