Home-sharing company Xiaozhu Inc is in discussions with its United States counterpart Airbnb Inc to cooperate in overseas markets, as the Chinese company seeks to establish a presence in Japan, South Korea and other Asian countries.
Chen Chi, CEO of Xiaozhu, said the two companies－which initiated talks last year－are discussing whether it is possible to cooperate on data and resources.
The partnership is also likely to cover China, the world's biggest outbound tourist market, but the talks are in early stages, Chen said.
"Different from the car-hailing sector, where Chinese player Didi Chuxing competed fiercely against its US rival Uber Technologies Inc, we are more willing to cooperate with each other to grow the industry," Chen said in an exclusive interview with China Daily.
He said Airbnb Chief Financial Officer Laurence Tosi shared the same hope: that the home-sharing industry will be more open and different platforms can pool resources.
Chen denied reports that Airbnb will acquire Xiaozhu.
"We want to operate independently. After all, the Chinese market is so huge and we want to get deeply involved in the industry and come up with new innovations," Chen said.
Xiaozhu, which has about 150,000 listings, is a major domestic home-sharing platform. In November, it raised $65 million in its latest fundraising drive. Its backers include Legend Capital, Joy Capital and Bertelsmann Asia Investment Fund.
The company started to branch into overseas markets in 2017, with about 1,000 listings in Japan as of today. "We plan to open a branch in Japan later this year, to meet Chinese outbound travelers' growing demand for personalized home experiences," Chen said.
According to him, the company is also eyeing South Korea and other Southeast Asian countries－all the top destinations for Chinese travelers－for opportunities.
Statistics from the China National Tourism Administration showed that Chinese travelers made 122 million outbound trips in 2016.
Yu Fengxia, director of the Information Institute of the State Information Center, said earlier a growing number of Chinese are willing to be part of the sharing economy.