[BEIJING] 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 and JD.com Inc.
Addressing the opening of China's annual parliamentary meeting in Beijing, Mr 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 (US$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," Mr Li said.
Mr 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 and online search firm Baidu Inc. Both have internet finance operations and are expanding internationally.
State-backed shipping and logistics firms China Cosco, China Shipping Container Lines and Sinotrans, as well as local delivery firms YTO Express and SF Express, should gain too.
Both Mr 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.
Mr Li said the world's second largest economy would target growth this year of around 7 per cent, signalling the lowest expansion for a quarter of a century.