Qunar.com, which bills itself as China's third-largest travel search engine firm, said last week it was hoping to finalise talks over a possible joint venture in Japan by the end of this year.

"We are discussing with a range of potential partners - big players with some Internet assets," Chief Executive Fritz Demopoulos said at the Reuters Global Technology, Media and Telecoms Summit.

Qunar - Chinese for "Where are you going?" - was founded two years ago by Demopoulos, a Chinese technology industry veteran, and provides pricing information for travel services.

China's online travel services sector is dominated by Ctrip.com, which is part-owned by Japanese online shopping mall operator Rakuten.

But while Qunar.com offers a platform for price comparisons, with consumers directly contacting the hotels or airways, Ctrip.com plays a role as agent.

Other players in the China's online travel space include eLong, in which US online travel giant Expedia has a majority stake.

Source: Reuters