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Chinese online shopping boom reaches ROK, Japan

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HANGZHOU, Aug. 7 (Xinhua) -- An online sales boom that has swept through young Chinese is now cheering up sellers in Japan and the Republic of Korea.

The volume of goods purchased by Chinese online shoppers from overseas websites has more than tripled in the first half of the year, according to the county's largest third-party payment platform, Alipay.

According to a report released on Monday by Alipay, a subsidiary of the e-commerce giant Alibaba Group, the volume of overall purchases by Chinese netizens via the platform in the first six months rose 219 percent year on year, in comparison to a rise of 117 percent recorded in 2012.

Alipay said Chinese online shoppers usually prefer to buy from Europe and America. However, they are now shifting to the Japanese and South Korean markets, where growth is highest.

Partly thanks to the dramatic depreciation of the Japanese yen, the online purchase volume of Japanese commodities more than quadrupled to over 4.1 billion yuan (661 million U.S. dollars) in the first half of the year, while purchases from South Korea also leapt by 160 percent, according to Alipay.

Sources with Alipay said the company expects purchases from the two countries to exceed 10 billion yuan for the whole year.

"It's cheaper to buy Japanese and South Korean goods on the Internet, because the prices of many such goods are only 60 to 70 percent of the prices in China," said 24-year-old Gu Zimei from Beijing.

Statistics from Alipay show that most of the online shoppers are from big cities like Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, and they are mostly young people in their 20s and 30s.

The statistics also reveal that cosmetics and garments are most purchased by Chinese online shoppers, while household appliances, food and air tickets are popular too.

Chen Liang, a researcher at Alibaba's research center, said e-commerce has clearly stimulated overseas consumption.

"The young generation has demonstrated their great potential for consumption, and more countries will take a keen interest in this," Chen said.

E-commerce has developed rapidly in China in recent years and it is gaining more support from the authorities.

The foreign trade department under the Ministry of Commerce is mulling supportive policies to promote foreign trade services via e-commerce, the China Securities Journal reported on Monday.

These policies would build a green channel through custom clearances, tax rebates, financing, inspection and other sections in the process of foreign trade via e-commerce platform, according to the newspaper.

The policies are expected to be released this year, sources with the Ministry of Commerce said.

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