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China's answer to GPS spawning a $36bn industry

Beijing's promotion of military-industrial complex fuels rise of Beidou

China South Industries Group's drone on display Thursday at the technology expo in Mianyang, China.

MIANYANG, China -- Once reserved for the military, China's space-based positioning system is powering a rapidly growing range of domestic businesses that represent the fusion of the military and industry President Xi Jinping is trying to advance.

Beidou -- the Chinese name for the constellation Ursa Major -- is set to span the globe by 2020 with the launch of its 35th satellite. More than 150 million Chinese smartphones can already receive signals from its 23 existing satellites. By that year, the market for products and services that depend on the system is projected to balloon to 240 billion yuan ($36.9 billion) -- four times the size in 2016.

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