China’s economy will face “a difficult three to five years” but the slowdown will be good for its long-term development, Alibaba executive chairman Jack Ma told the South China Morning Post in an interview just before the e-commerce giant’s takeover of the 113-year-old newspaper.
Ma said the Chinese economy was indeed grappling with structural problems and that the authorities were working hard to steer it onto a new growth path. But he dismissed fears that China would follow Japan’s route to stagnation, saying the country still had huge potential waiting to be tapped.
The rapid growth of China’s internet economy and consumer culture could help the country through its temporary difficulties, Ma said.
“Some say the actual [growth] number could be just 5 per cent. But even with 5 per cent growth, there is no other economy of such size growing at that speed in today’s world.”
“The traditional industries are struggling, but we also see growth in domestic consumption, the services industry and the hi-tech sector, and young talents are flocking to these areas,” he said.
“The logistics and delivery industries create plenty of jobs for low-skilled workers. We still have a lot of room for growth.”
There will still be plenty of opportunities in China for the next 15 to 20 years. It’s a country with 1.3 billion people, of which 700 to 800 million are out of poverty and 200 to 300 million are middle class. By developing our internet technology, China can drive tremendous growth in the consumer, services and IT industries. I believe there will be some great enterprises arising from China. The monetary policy and supply-side reforms are very important and can help rejuvenate China’s economy. But to me, the most important thing is entrepreneurship. If this can flourish in China, China will become successful.