[BEIJING] China's slowdown is an opportunity for a "real market economy" to flourish, and it will be entrepreneurs, not the government, spurring consumption that will drive growth, Alibaba Group Holding Ltd Executive Chairman Jack Ma said.
Beijing is seeking to steer the economy toward a consumption-driven model and reduce its reliance on government investment and export-led growth, but its attempts to arrest a stock market slump this summer met with little success and have raised doubts about its commitment to financial and economic reforms.
"Consumption is not done by government. Consumption is done by entrepreneurship and (a) market economy. So I think people like us have a great opportunity. Now it's our turn. Not the government's turn," Mr Ma said in a videolinked talk at the Stanford Business School in California.
"After 30 years, the government pushed the economy in their way, and now it's our way. I consider this as an opportunity for a real market economy."
He said that with infrastructure investment and exports slowing, it was down to consumer spending to drive growth and that for the e-commerce giant, which accounts for 12 per cent of retail spending in China, "consumption is still going up, healthily and aggressively".
"Especially when the economy's bad, people start to buy online because it's cheaper," he said.
Alibaba reported gross merchandise volume climbed 34 per cent in the three months through June to 673 billion yuan (S$151 billion), though that was slowest growth in more than three years. It has also trimmed its forecasts for the quarter to end-September.