Google will invest $550 million in JD.com, a Chinese ecommerce company, as the Mountain View, California search engine and advertising giant strengthens its foothold in China, the two companies announced Monday.
As part of the agreement, JD.com will join Google Shopping, the company's online commence retail network, and will bring a selection of its products to consumers in multiple regions worldwide. The partnership emerges in trying times for U.S. and China trade relations.
Richard Liu, the founder and CEO of Chinese e-commerce company JD.com -- which competes with Jack Ma’s Alibaba -- told CNBC that the tense climate between the two countries will affect JD.com’s expansion plans into the U.S.
JD.com also will work with Google on other ecommerce projects taking place across the U.S., Europe and Southeast Asia.
It’s clear that the move takes a direct jab at ecommerce and fulfillment icon Amazon. “By applying JD.com’s supply chain and logistics expertise and our technology strengths, we’re going to explore new ways retailers can make shopping effortless for their consumers, giving them the power to shop wherever and however they want,” wrote Karim Temsamani, president of Asia-Pacific operations at Google, in a post.
Google has remained quiet in China for years, since the Chinese government began shutting down websites and revoking licenses. Still, hundreds of employees work on product development and research in the country.
Since 2015, Chinese government officials shuttered or revoked licenses for 13,000 websites, according to one source, citing a state media report.
In March 2010, Google closed its Internet search services in China and began directing searchers to an uncensored search engine in Hong Kong after realizing the company’s business model ran counter to China’s position on free speech. In a blog post earlier that year, Google cited censorship and a string of sophisticated cyberattacks originating from China as part of the reason.
Then in 2017, Fei-Fei Li, a chief scientist for Google Cloud AI and machine learning, introduce the first AI center in Asia, adding to a string of centers worldwide in New York, Toronto, London and Zurich.
Now Google is rebuilding its public presence in the country by partnering with the well-known ecommerce company JD.com.