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China tech

Alibaba enlists German brands to boost online sales at home

Company looks for ways to fend off e-commerce rivals JD.com and NetEase

Alibaba headquarters in Hangzhou, China: The company has seen its lead in the domestic e-commerce market slip in recent years.    © Reuters

BIRKENFELD, Germany -- The mayor of Birkenfeld, located in one of southwestern Germany's most remote areas, is a content man. Bernard Alscher has helped bring in scores of Chinese investors and seen the sleepy township transform itself into a major hub for Germany-China e-commerce.

The "World Factory Headquarters," a Chinese-investor backed project set up in abandoned U.S. military barracks, now houses some 260 Chinese companies. It aims to be the biggest Chinese trading center in Europe. Most occupants are online retailers using Alibaba Group Holding's Tmall Global for China-bound online sales of German goods and Amazon for the sale of Chinese goods to Germany. 

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