French manufacturers on Thursday decried as "slanderous" comments by e-commerce giant Alibaba founder Jack Ma that Chinese knock-offs are better quality than branded originals.
After giving the impression that Alibaba was combatting counterfeiting, Ma's comments "run counter to efficient cooperation given that they are misleading, even slanderous," said the Unifab association that includes luxury houses LVMH, Kering and Hermes.
"The problem is that the fake products today, they have better quality,a better price than the real product, than the real names," Ma said in a speech at Alibaba's investors day in the southern Chinese city of Hangzhou on Tuesday.
"They're the same exact factories, the same exact raw materials, but they do not use that (brand) name," he added.
Alibaba has come under fire in recent years for the ease at which knock-off goods are available to consumers on its online Taobao marketplace.
Taobao is estimated to hold more than 90 percent of the domestic consumer-to-consumer market, while the company's Tmall platform is believed to have over half of China's business-to-consumer transactions.
China's factories have traditionally churned out products for branded companies at low cost, but with the rise of e-commerce platforms such as Alibaba, they are increasingly finding opportunities to market their own goods online directly to consumers.
Senator Richard Yung, who heads up France's national anti-counterfeiting committee, said that "Jack Ma's irresponsible comments, which appear to be a provocation, justify Alibaba's suspension from the International Anti-Counterfeiting Coalition (IACC)".
Alibaba has been collaborating with the IACC to remove an average of 10,000 listings of counterfeit goods from Taobao and Tmall per month, according to the IACC's website.
Indicam, Italy's anti-counterfeit association, said "a statement comparing fake and real and putting them on the same level is out of line."