March 5, 2015 / 5:14 AM / in 3 years

China backs e-commerce expansion in win for Alibaba, JD.com

BEIJING (Reuters) - China will back e-commerce development and guide international expansion by Chinese internet companies, Premier Li Keqiang said on Thursday, in an endorsement for firms such as Alibaba Group Holding Ltd BABA.N and JD.com Inc JD.O.

Addressing the opening of China’s annual parliamentary meeting in Beijing, Li broadly laid out China’s “Internet Plus” strategy, which includes promoting cloud computing, online banking, mobile internet, along with logistics to help e-commerce expansion.

He also stressed the need for more state investment in the internet sector.“In addition to the 40 billion yuan ($6.38 billion) government fund already in place for investment in China’s emerging industries, more funds need to be raised for promoting business development and innovation,” Li said.

Li’s support would benefit Alibaba, the world’s largest e-commerce company, which is already investing in cloud computing and internet finance. Its biggest rival, Beijing-based JD.com, has seen its transactions more than treble in its online marketplace.

Others firms likely to benefit include social networking and entertainment company Tencent Holding Ltd 0700.HK and online search firm Baidu Inc BIDU.O. Both have internet finance operations and are expanding internationally.

State-backed shipping and logistics firms China Cosco 601919.SS 1919.HK, China Shipping Container Lines 601866.SS 2866.HK and Sinotrans 0598.HK, as well as local delivery firms YTO Express and S.F. Express, should gain too.

Both Li and the National Development and Reform Commision (NDRC), in a separate annual report, stressed the need to boost the technology industry, at a time of slowing economic growth and as China tries to transition into a consumption-based economy from its heavy reliance on manufacturing.

Li said the world’s second largest economy would target growth this year of around 7 percent, signaling the lowest expansion for a quarter of a century.

($1 = 6.2683 Chinese yuan renminbi)

Reporting by Gerry Shih; Additional reporting by Brenda Goh in SHANGHAI and Beijing Newsroom; Writing by Paul Carsten; Editing by Kavita Chandran

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