China Unicom (600050.SH, 0762.HK) and Spain’s Telefonica (TEF.NYSE, TDE.LSE, 9841.TYO, TEF.BMAD) announced that they would deepen their strategic alliance by investing a further US$500 million in each others’ firms, the Wall Street Journal reported. China Unicom will increase its stake in Telefonica to 1.37% from 0.9%, while Telefonica will increase its stake in China Unicom to 9.7% from 8.4%. The move is particularly important for Telefonica, which has been aggressively expanding into emerging markets in Latin America and East Asia. The firm noted that "[e]very six months, the Chinese [telecom] market grows at a rate that equals Spain’s population." The two firms began their strategic alliance in 2005, with cooperation on technology, equipment purchases and service platforms. Telefonica’s additional purchase of China Unicom shares will be made over the course of the next nine months.