Free-speech-loving Cloudflare hooks up with China’s biggest retailer JD

The spice must flow seems to be the gist of it, along with JD's cloudy ambitions

Cloudflare, which has often taken a stance on freedom of speech issues, has now vastly extended its reach into China – where the government routinely censors its citizens.

China’s already a substantial market for the traffic-grooming company, which can deliver its services through 17 local data centres.

Now it’s teamed up with JD Cloud& AI, the cloud offshoot of colossal retailer JD.Com. JD’s retail revenue is about $22bn a quarter, rather behind Amazon’s ~$75bn. However the Chinese company boasts 362 million annual active users and has ambitions to win many more outside China.

The arrangement between the two is multidimensional. JD Cloud & AI will offer Cloudflare services to its Chinese clients, helping them to move bytes to the world. Cloudflare’s services will operate in 150 Chinese data centres, making them more relevant to local users.

Cloudflare’s pitched this as a good thing as it “ … will allow international businesses to grow their online presence in China without having to worry about managing separate tools with separate vendors for security and performance in China. Customers will benefit from greater performance and security inside China using the same configurations that they use with Cloudflare everywhere else in the world.”

Throw in the fact that China’s telecoms scene is fractured and peering is not widely adopted behind the Great Firewall, and Cloudflare thinks it can offer plenty of value.

Cloudflare’s announcement appears to recognise that doing business in China presents some risks, so it has pointed out that:

“No Cloudflare customer traffic passes through the China network unless a customer explicitly opts-in to the service. And, for Cloudflare customers that opt-in to proxying content inside China, traffic and log data from outside of China is not stored in the China network or shared with our partner.”

But China will of course do its very best to see how Cloudflare is being used. ®

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