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Chinese e-commerce company plans to enter the Thai market this year as its second Southeast Asia market after Indonesia.

Founder/chief executive Richard Liu says the company plans to use Thailand as a hub for servicing other Southeast Asian countries such as Malaysia and Vietnam.

He says he is confident his firm can compete with Alibaba in Southeast Asia. “When we entered the e-commerce business 12 years ago, Alibaba was already a giant. It couldn’t kill us. How can it do so today?

“Unless we make some serious strategic mistake, no competitors can actually beat us nowadays.” Liu declined to say how much would invest in Thailand, but says it is likely to be less than he is investing in Indonesia.

With intense competition, has expanded into fast-moving consumer goods including household supplies, food and drink. The company has also diversified into data, cloud and artificial-intelligence services.

The firm posted its first quarterly profit last month since its share listing in 2014, but warns that the cost of expanding at home and abroad could crimp profit growth. It made a first-quarter net profit of RMB355.7 million (US$52.3 million) on revenue, up 41 per cent at RMB76.2 billion, while active customer accounts total more than 237 million.

Liu says the firm is pressing ahead with its adoption of drones to deliver goods between cities and more remote areas. JD plans to build 180 drone network “airports” in the mountainous Sichuan region, at a likely cost around RMB600,000 each.

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