Rakuten, Japan's leading online shopping group, plans to expand its overseas presence by entering the Chinese market as early as this year, the Financial Times reported.

A key objective for the new year would be to develop its overseas operations, but it emphasized that it was still in the early stages of planning any expansion abroad, the newspaper quoted the firm as saying.

'We want to do e-commerce in China but we have only started to look into it,' a Rakuten official, who was not identified, said.

Rakuten made its first overseas foray in 2004 with the acquisition of 21.6 pct stake in Ctrip.com, a Chinese online travel agency, for 101 mln usd, the Financial Times said.

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