Chinese web entrepreneur Jack Ma faced an angry mob of around 200 Peruvian textile workers in the famous garment district, Gamarra. Ma, along with Peruvian Production Minister Elena Conterno, were meeting with local textile workers to discuss the future of Peru’s textile industry after the Free-Trade Agreement between China and Peru.
But workers were not so trusting of Ma’s positive outlook. Many fear the FTA signed with China would cause a drastic loss in jobs and Peruvian-made goods due to cheaper costs the Chinese bring.
“We can’t compete with the Chinese,” one worker told a reporter. “We are without work. Sooner or later,” she went on, Peru will be filled “with badly made, cheap Chinese products.”
Ma, who is considered in his country as the Chinese “Bill Gates,” tried to calm the angry mob’s fears of losing their jobs to Chinese labor.
Struggling to make himself heard over shouts of “get out of here!” by vendors, Ma tried to assure Peruvians that his country is no threat to their labor, that he was encouraging vendors to sell their goods to China, not the other way around.
“If you don’t sell abroad, businessmen in other countries will come to sell in your markets,” he warned.
When the crowd wouldn’t break, Conterno ran to his defense, cutting the speech short. She admits holding the speech in a chic neighborhood would have been easier but wanted Ma to speak to people who would be directly affected by the China-Peru FTA.