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Critics who say there is a bubble in the Chinese economy are getting a lot wrong, two tech industry leaders said on Thursday.
Michael Evans, president of Alibaba Group, said he's "not particularly concerned" with criticisms from hedge fund manager Kyle Bass or famed short-seller Jim Chanos. Chanos told CNBC yesterday that he though real estate and debt in the country was headed for a bubble, while Bass said the banking system had assets that were built "recklessly."
Evans called the comments prognostications, based on misinformation of the country's real challenges.
"Many of the things that Jim has focused on are actually real concerns, which the Chinese regulators and leaders are also focused on," Evans said. "But we have confidence that they both understand the magnitude of the issues and are thinking about solutions that will be sustainable in the long term."
Evans spoke at Vanity Fair's 2016 New Establishment Summit in San Francisco, inspired by "figures who are setting the global agenda and leading the Age of Innovation."
He was joined by Jean Liu, president of Didi Chuxing. Ride-sharing company Didi Chuxing has drawn attention from technology giants around the world for doing an Uber-like business at massive scale.
Both said there are many misconceptions of China in the West. Evans said between his years of experience in finance and two decades working in China, he's confident that the transparency of both economic and financial information in China rivals that of the rest of the world.
"If you think about China today as a market that is very dependent on the big four banks....then you have to understand that the government and regulators are very concerned that those banks remains safe because they are the central pillars of the economy," Evans said.
It's even possible that the U.S. is envious that giants like Baidu and Tencent were built in a market that's thought to be less free, Evans said. Liu also said she was confident and comfortable that the government is encouraging entrepreneurship, and said that U.S. firms should not mistake Chinese innovation as copycatting.
Rather than being less free, Liu said it is the "most competitive market ever," pointing to Didi's hard-fought battle with Uber. Didi absorbed Uber China earlier this year, and as of last month, the company said it was giving 15 million to 20 million private-car hailing rides per day, Liu said. It and served 300 million passengers in the first quarter of this year.
Boasting investments from Apple and Alibaba, Didi has been heralded as one of the few companies that has cracked aspects of the Chinese market that have eluded American firms.
"We think that we'll learn a lot about the business and the Chinese market beyond what we currently know. Didi has an incredible team there," Cook said of Apple's $1 billion investments.
"Thanks to competition we become stronger and more innovative," Liu said. When asked of Didi's competition with Uber in other regions, she added, "We will play a global game."
Alibaba, China's preeminent online commerce platform, has become focused on bringing international brands to China's market, landing brands like Martha Stewart. Upcoming is the company's November 11 "global shopping festival," that the company has framed as a "gateway to sell directly to China's burgeoning consumer class."
"I believe that ... foreign technology companies will be successful in China," Evans said. "I also believe that Chinese technology companies, including Didi, probably Alibaba, will be successful in the U.S. and Europe. But that is the challenge and the most difficult parts of globalization for us."