Artificial intelligence is the new hot trend in China and seems to be on its way to join BAT in the AI game. JD believes that AI technology will determine its success or failure in future retail competition, according to a report from Caijing (in Chinese). The new direction is illustrated by the latest share acquisition by Jindong Jinquan, a JD affiliated company owned by Zhang Pang, assistant to JD founder and CEO Liu Qiangdong or Richard Liu.

The company in question is CSG Smart Science and Technology (科大智能) which develops smart manufacturing solutions, robotics, and new energy solutions. After suspending trade at the start of August, CSG announced its asset restructuring plan on Thursday revealing that it plans to raise RMB 600 million of funds by offering Jindong Jingquan and Hongzhao Capital shares by private placement. The funds will be used for the development of new electronic tags, the construction of large data operation platform for IoT, and developing intelligent equipment and systems for large-scale unmanned shopping malls.

CSG will be making acquisitions of its own in the intelligent hardware area. On Thursday it announced that it plans to purchase a 100% stake in Inlaylink (英内物联), a company developing RFID (radio-frequency identification) smart tracking tags and other smart retail equipment. CSG also aims to gain ownership in another company developing smart manufacturing unimaginatively bearing the same acronym—CSG (乾承机械).

The JD Group has already established a joint laboratory with the University of Electronic Science and Technology of China to focus on intelligent robots and AI research. Last week the company announced that it has made former Microsoft Asia Pacific technology chairman Shen Yuanqing president of its cloud business unit.

“Within five years I’m 100 per cent sure we will be the largest B2C [business to consumer] platform in China — we will surpass any competitor,” said the head of JD Liu Qiangdong in a recent interview with Financial Times. Judging from the latest news, Liu is putting money where is mouth is.

Masha Borak is a technology reporter based in Beijing. Write to her at masha.borak [at] Pitches with the word "disruptive" will be ignored. Read a good book - learn some more adjectives.

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