JD is in talks with Thailand’s Central Group about a $500 million e-commerce joint venture, according to Reuters. The talks are not yet public, but at an advanced stage according to the news agency’s sources. This would see the Chinese battle for the Southeast Asia market heat up considerably, with a focus shifting west from Indonesia where JD has been concentrating its efforts.

The news comes as no surprise. Back in June, JD chief executive Richard Liu told Reuters: “Thailand will come soon, before the end of the year. We will invest a lot and also find the best local partners to work together with. Everyone could be possible, but not Lazada.” This is because Lazada, Southeast Asia’s leading e-commerce platform, is controlled by China’s top e-commerce company and JD’s bitter rival, Alibaba Group.

To put the $500 million into perspective, Alibaba has so far put $2 billion into Lazada. In May this year, Tencent invested $1.2 billion in Indonesia-based logistics and payment startup Go-Jek last month.

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Frank Hersey

Frank Hersey is a Beijing-based tech reporter who's been coming to China since 2001. He tries to go beyond the headlines to explain the context and impact of developments in China's tech sector. Get in...