Alibaba’s Jack Ma says government should stick to governing

SHANGHAI—Chinese e-commerce tycoon Jack Ma used a government-sponsored forum to suggest regulators take a lighter touch in dealing with technology companies, saying the market should be allowed to decide how new industries like artificial intelligence develop.

“I personally think that the government has to do what the government should do, and the companies do what companies should do,” Ma said at the World Artificial Intelligence Conference in Shanghai on Monday, recalling a conversation he said he had last year with U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao about self-driving cars.

“Protecting the backward forces who are crying out loud will be the most important factor in destroying innovation,” Ma said.

Ma’s comments came a week after he announced his plans to retire in one year as executive chairman of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. BABA, -3.41% , the internet giant with businesses in online retailing, cloud computing and mobile payments.

An expanded version of this report appears at WSJ.com.

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