One-party system good for China, says Jack Ma

Alibaba executive chairman Jack Ma said he has confidence in China's potential.
Alibaba executive chairman Jack Ma said he has confidence in China's potential.

Alibaba chairman contrasts country's stability with unpredictability of US politics

GUANGZHOU • Alibaba executive chairman Jack Ma said China benefits from the stability of its single-party system, contrasting that with the unpredictability of US politics.

The Chinese billionaire made the comments in response to a question about the country's economy and its prospects for growth.

Mr Ma said he has confidence in China's potential and cited as his No. 1 reason the stability of the one-party system in the country, which has been led by the communists since 1949.

In the United States, the Democrats go one way, then the Republicans go another, which complicates planning, he said.

"I am very confident about China," he added during an onstage interview at Fortune magazine's conference in Guangzhou.

It is Mr Ma's second explicitly political declaration this week. At China's World Internet Conference in Wuzhen, he spoke out in support of the government's tight control online and lectured foreign competitors on their strategies in the country.

He said companies like Facebook and Google that want to operate in China need to "follow the rules", implying they had to adhere to censorship controls to gain access to its citizens.

Also speaking in Guangzhou were Apple chief executive Tim Cook, Tencent Holdings chairman Pony Ma and Mr Terry Gou, chairman of iPhone manufacturer Hon Hai Precision Industry.

Mr Cook emphasised the importance of China to his company, both as the primary place for manufacturing iPhones and iPads, and as a market for its products.

He said the No. 1 attraction of China for manufacturing is the "quality of people".

Though Apple has lost ground in the smartphone market against local rivals, Mr Cook said the company is regaining its share and he "couldn't be happier" with sales of the iPhone X so far.

Mr Cook had also given a keynote speech at the Wuzhen conference, his first appearance there, and he defended his involvement against criticism that he was lending support to the Chinese authorities and their censorship of the Internet.

"When you go into a country and participate in the market, you are subject to the laws and regulations of that country," he said in Guangzhou.

"Your choice is, do you participate or do you stand in the sideline and yell at how things should be? My own view, very strongly, is you show up and you participate. You get in the arena because nothing ever changes from the sideline."

Mr Pony Ma talked about the history of his company, which is not as well known abroad as Alibaba.

He explained that several teams competed against one another in messaging services, which led to the success of the company's WeChat and QQ platforms.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 07, 2017, with the headline 'One-party system good for China, says Jack Ma'. Print Edition | Subscribe