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Jack Ma says English proficiency helped him build business

2015/03/03 21:26

Taipei, March 3 (CNA) Jack Ma, executive chairman Alibaba Group, said Tuesday in Taipei that a strong command of the English language helped him to develop the business, which is now China's biggest online commerce enterprise.

In an address to about 2,000 students at National Taiwan University, Ma said that when he was young, he learned and practiced English through conversations with foreign tourists who were native English speakers.

Ma said that he made numerous mistakes and suffered a series of setbacks during the process of building Alibaba into a large business, but his good English skills helped him to rise to success.

The Chinese tycoon said he began developing an interest in English when he was about 12 years old and was serving as a tour guide for foreign guests at a hotel in China. Ma said he would ask the guests to teach him English, and the learning process lasted nine years. It was an achievement that had a great impact on him, he said.

Ma graduated from Hangzhou Teacher's Institute, which has since been renamed Hangzhou Normal University, and he worked as a high school English teacher for six years.

The teaching experience also helped him greatly in running his company, he said. He attributed his success to his ability to withstand failure.

Speaking with three students on the sidelines of the lecture, Ma said problems are inevitable in the process of starting a business, but optimism and good business partners make a difference.

He said he does not care for the business start-up model that is touted in Master of Business Administration programs as its focus is on industrial output value.

Ma said he has great expectations of Taiwan's youth, given their courtesy, intelligence, level-headedness and upbringing.

Addressing the allegations of counterfeit products being sold on Alibaba's leading ecommerce platform Taobao Marketplace, Ma said that it is impossible for fake products to disappear from human society, although personally he is sick of companies selling toxic and fake products.

Taobao, as China's largest e-commerce website, has a responsibility to remove counterfeit products from its listings, Ma said.

(By Hsu Chih-wei and Evelyn Kao)Enditem/pc