Amazon has pledged over $5bn to replicate its offerings in India. The Chinese giants are taking a different tack, buying stakes in local firms and weaving them together into complex tapestries of services. Tencent and Alibaba have over 1,000 stakes in foreign firms, including dozens in emerging markets. Along with Ant, they have backed 43% of all Asian unicorns, startups worth more than $1bn. Chinese tech firms pumped $5bn into Indian startups in 2017, a fivefold increase on the year before. Online data provide the fuel for artificial intelligence; deciding if they flow into Chinese computing clouds or American ones could have consequences for how dependent countries become on one superpower. The battle between China and USA is a commercial one, but its outcome could split the world into two techno-blocs.
*) the Economist 7th July 2018