UPDATE 1-Hedge fund manager Chanos wary of Japan PM's plans to rearm

Fri May 16, 2014 4:38pm EDT

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LAS VEGAS May 16 (Reuters) - Prominent hedge fund manager Jim Chanos on Friday called Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe the most dangerous figure in Asia, citing his plans to rearm his country.

Abe could destabilize the region more than what any Chinese leaders are doing, said Chanos, who heads Kynikos Associates, at the SkyBridge Alternatives Conference here. He was responding when asked to name the most dangerous person in Asia.

While Abe is well known for his economic stimulus plans, he is also seen as a hard-line nationalist who stands up to regional powers.

Chanos has long talked publicly about his bet against China, arguing that it is suffering from a real estate bubble.

He joked that the country is the only important power that knows its growth rate for the coming year on January 1.

Chanos, who recently sent a research team to China, pointed out the rows of empty buildings in the country's second and third tier cities. "That shows just what a construction site China is."

Jin Liqun, chairman of the supervisory board of China Investment Corp, said he worries about excessive property development in the country's smaller cities as well.

But Chanos did say that China's crackdown on corruption is now "serious and pervasive."

Jim O'Neill, a longtime Goldman Sachs economist who coined the phrase BRICS for emerging economies Brazil, Russia, India and China, said the election of Narendra Modi in India is the most important potential positive for India in 30 years.

"He has a huge mandate," he said about Modi, a Hindu nationalist who was elected prime minister.

(Reporting by Svea Herbst-Bayliss; Editing by Richard Chang)

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