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Alibaba Wants to Help Foreign Firms Break Into China

A pedestrian walks past Alibaba.com adveA pedestrian walks past Alibaba.com adve
A pedestrian walks past Alibaba.com advertising in Hong Kong. MIKE CLARKE/ AFP/ Getty Images

The cloud arm of Chinese tech giant Alibaba (BABA) is making a big push to get Western firms using its services when they try to enter the Chinese market.

Alibaba Cloud, which claims to be the largest public cloud provider in China, on Tuesday unveiled a new program called AliLaunch, which provides opportunities for joint ventures, wholesaling, and “marketplace partnerships.”

The company described AliLaunch as a business-to-business version of TMall, the Alibaba e-commerce platform that provides stores for brands such as P&G (PG) and Samsung (SSNLF).

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Alibaba also launched a program called the “global technology partners marketplace,” through which tech companies can get their services integrated with and hosted in Alibaba’s cloud.

“The AliLaunch program and Global Technology Partners Marketplace serve as the perfect platforms for making different software products accessible to businesses and organizations in China,” said Sicheng Yu, the general manager of Alibaba Cloud Global, in a statement.

In short, Alibaba is hoping that foreign firms will take up the offer of its expertise in negotiating the local market, both in terms of what it calls “technology compatibility” and Chinese compliance regulations.

Companies already offering their services through Alibaba’s marketplaces include business software providers SAP (SAP) and Hitachi Data Systems, location specialist Here and security firm Check Point.

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“The cloud market is growing rapidly both in China and abroad,” Beijing-based Forrester analyst Charlie Dai told Fortune. “The competition of cloud players is switching from infrastructure layer to the whole platform and value ecosystem.”

China has proven to be a difficult market for some Western firms, particularly in the business-to-consumer sector. Uber famously could not crack the market, and authorities in the country have given companies such as Microsoft, Cisco, and Apple a hard time over the security of their products.

Forrester analyst Frank Liu noted that recent compliance laws have held back software-as-a-service providers from pushing into the Chinese market, so Alibaba’s partnership program may be warmly received. He also pointed out that it could help Alibaba, which is after all most experienced servicing consumers rather than businesses.

“This program can also help Alibaba Cloud to strongly know enterprise requirements,” he said. “They do not have enough experience of enterprise technology, and SAP or Suse or Hitachi have a lot of experience.”