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Google invests $550m in Chinese e-commerce giant JD.com

Matthew Field
A JD.com delivery driver in Beijing - Reuters

Google has invested $550m (£415m) in Chinese Amazon rival JD.com as the US search giant attempts to extend its presence in Asian markets.

The companies said the investment is the start of a partnership that will see JD.com products promoted on Google's shopping service, expanding JD.com's reach beyond its Chinese base and into US and European markets.

Google's search engine has been blocked in China since 2010 over its refusal to censor search results to comply with local laws. JD.com serves as one of the main competitors to China's Alibaba, with more than 300 million active users of its online stores.

Google joins JD.com's current investors, including Chinese social media giant Tencent and US retailer Walmart.

Google has increased its investments in Chinese and South Asian markets in recent months, taking a stake in Indonesian ride-hailing company Go-Jek.

The investment allows Google to extend its reach into China against rivals like Amazon and Alibaba, which has forged strategic partnerships with the likes of Softbank Group and made in-roads into other sectors such as artificial intelligence and payment apps. Google's stake gives it a less than 1pc share in JD.com.

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Google chief business officer Philipp Schindler said the deal would help "give consumers the power to shop wherever and however they want".

"This partnership with Google opens up a broad range of possibilities to offer a superior retail experience to consumers throughout the world," said Jianwen Liao, JD.com’s chief strategy officer.

JD.com faces competition from Alibaba, which launched a record-breaking float in 2014, raising $24bn.

While Google's search engine is blocked in China it has been quietly launching products to gain a foothold in the market, including launching its file-sharing app Files Go and investing in e-sports company Chushou. 

The partnership between US and Chinese tech companies comes at a testing political moment. US President Donald Trump has slammed 25pc tariffs on hundreds of Chinese products, fuelling fears of a trade war.