Well this is unexpected.

The chief executive of taxi-hailing app Didi Kuaidi, Uber’s main rival in China, reportedly told Uber founder Travis Kalanick that he was his “inspiration,” during a July 2014 visit to China.

At least, that’s according to comments given to The Wall Street Journal by an Uber spokeswoman in a story published Wednesday.

Cheng Wei, the founder and chief executive of China’s biggest taxi-hailing app, is involved in a fierce battle with Uber for the hearts and minds of the country’s estimated 750 million urban commuters — and it’s using any tactics at its disposal to win.

“It was super friendly,” an Uber spokeswoman said about Kalanick and Wei’s meeting last year, adding:

“Cheng Wei greeted Travis with the words ‘you are my inspiration’.”

Didi Kuaidi chief executive Cheng Wei

Above: Didi Kuaidi chief executive Cheng Wei

It would be incredibly odd for Uber to make light of comments like these if they weren’t true, but then it’s something that is clearly now impossible to verify (i.e. there’s no recording of the conversation posted online).

While neither taxi-hailing company is having the easiest time in China right now — and Uber especially seems to be fighting an uphill battle with yet more rape claims — the sheer size of the market means it can’t be easily ignored.

Just today, a Didi driver in the city of Guangzhou is reportedly facing a record fine from police (paywalled link). And on Tuesday, both Uber and Didi were hit hard when authorities criminalized private-car services in the southern city of Shenzhen.

In any case, don’t expect this to be the last word between these two company’s chief executives as their stand-off in China intensifies.

We’ve reached out to both companies for comment, and we’ll update you if we hear back.

Update: Uber declined to comment.

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