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Jack Ma to Barack Obama: Beijing’s smog is changing the way government and businesses work

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China e-commerce giant Alibaba’s founder Jack Ma is working up the social ladder. In September, he accompanied Chinese president Xi Jinping at an Internet industry forum in Seattle. On Wednesday, U.S. president Barack Obama interviewed the second wealthiest man in China at at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Manila, Philippines. The two celebrities found some common interests. Mr. Obama has tried to tackle the climate change issue, despite a climate change bill failing to pass U.S. legislature. Jack Ma has been an active philanthropist and is involved in philanthropic activities in environmental protection. AllChinaTech selects five takeaways from their conversation:

On innovation for big enterprises
Ma: It’s difficult for big companies to keep innovating and keeping up. The innovation is always outside your company. So for us, when we see companies like that, we’re excited. We put the money inside. We’re using technology. And we also promote them on our platform if they’re environmentally friendly.

On nourishing startups
Ma: one thing I would advise–we just had a discussion back in the office that nobody can help you, only we can help ourselves.  Ambassadors, government – are uncles and aunts.  You are the father and you are the mother of the kid.  Don’t give up the kid. Because when we start out talking about our kid, our passion, this all sounds crazy, but you are the guy take care of the kids.

On climate change
Ma: I think there’s never enough money [to address the issue], but we should use the money to try to wake up people’s consciences. They should know that climate change is a problem; they should agree that water is a problem, food is a problem. So that is what we [should] think.


On smog in Beijing
Ma: I think today, because of the air in Beijing, the smog, it caused the government and all the businesses to change a lot in the past four years. “I just came back from Beijing four weeks ago. My throat was in pain.”

Whether U.S. or China should be blamed for CO2 emissions
Ma: It’s too late to complain about whose fault it is. Whether its your fault or my fault, let’s solve the problem together. It’s about combination–we’re combining the work of government, private sectors, scientists, and sociologists and philanthropists. We have to work together. So I think the thing is how we can work in a more efficient way. I believe you should always have a philanthropic heart on the inside, but you have to act like a businessman. Because you have to get things done.

Click here to see the full transcript from the INQUIRER, and here’s the original video from Rappler.

(With contributions from Stella Yu)

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