Oct 19, 2010
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Japan's Rakuten opens e-shopping mall in China with Baidu

Oct 19, 2010

TOKYO, Oct 19, 2010 AFP © - Japan's top Internet retailer Rakuten and its Chinese partner Baidu on Tuesday launched a new online shopping mall in China, despite heightened bilateral tensions between the two countries.

Rakuten, Baidu

The virtual marketplace, called Lekutian, will offer goods such as apparel, fashion accessories, furniture, home electronics and appliances, digital equipment and cosmetics, the firms said in a joint statement.

The e-mall is operated by their joint venture, owned 51 percent by Rakuten and 49 percent by Baidu, while the two will jointly invest 50 million dollars over three years in the business.

"We are bringing to market an innovative platform that allows retailers from around the world to create a fun and lasting direct relationship with Chinese consumers," said Koichi Nakamura, Lekutian chairman and CEO.

The launch comes as anti-Japanese sentiment has been growing in China, with students rallying in the streets after a row broke out between the two countries over disputed islands last month.

"I don't want to meddle in politics, but the two economic powers need to cooperate," Rakuten president Hiroshi Mikitani said on the eve of the launch on Monday, while denying the dispute would have any on its business.

The spat began when Japan arrested a Chinese trawler captain on September 8 near the islands in the East China Sea, a conflict that intensified after Tokyo extended his detention 10 days later.

Thousands of Chinese youths gave vent to nationalistic passions in anti-Japanese protests in several Chinese cities on Saturday, Sunday and Monday, vandalising some Japanese-owned businesses.

The Chinese venture is part of Rakuten's plan to expand global operations. Earlier this year, it acquired French e-commerce dealer PriceMinister.

Rakuten also bought Buy.com, one of largest e-commerce sites in the United States, while it has entered the Indonesian e-commerce marketplace through a joint venture with Global Mediacom, the firm said.

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