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Tencent CEO Pony Ma Criticizes Alibaba, Says Chinese Rival Acts Like a Landlord

Aaron Pressman

Tencent CEO Pony Ma had some tough words for his Chinese Internet company rival Alibaba on Wednesday.

Ma, who is not related to Alibaba executive chairman Jack Ma, started by reminiscing about when the two rivals were small players in China’s Internet market. Acknowledging that Tencent and Alibaba are now the titans, Pony Ma said he wanted to “take the opportunity here to highlight some of our differences.”

He then suggested that his rival behaves like an all-powerful landlord that can raise the rent any time it wants.

“We don’t provide a mall, we will not rent out this counter to allow you to do business,” Pony Ma explained, speaking Wednesday at the Fortune Global Forum in Guangzhou, China. “Instead we allow you to build your own house. After you built it, your fans, your clients are all yours, you don’t need to pay monthly rent, you don’t need to worry about yearly inflation, this is decentralization, I hope that everyone can understand.”

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Ma was speaking in Chinese and his speech was translated into English by a translator for Fortune.

Earlier, Alibaba’s baba leading exec discussed President Donald Trump’s more aggressive trade posture towards China. “It’s easy to launch a war, but it’s so difficult to stop a war,” Ma said on stage at the Fortune Global Forum.

The two Ma’s run two of the largest Internet companies on earth now, but Pony Ma recalled how they were like “younger brothers” in the early days of the online era, when Sina, Sohu and Netease were the giants.