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Taiwanese firms are eyeing the fast growing unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) in China and are setting up sales offices in the mainland to pursue the opportunity, the Economic Daily News reported Wednesday.

According to the report, Align Corp., one of the Taiwanese UAV developers, has opened a broad distribution network in 32 cities and provinces in China with the help of the Taiwan External Trade Development Council (TAITRA).

The TAITRA is a government-sponsored trade promotion organization that helps Taiwanese exporters boost their visibility in the global market and has arranged several trade shows in China to help local suppliers develop contacts.

Align has transformed itself from a home appliance provider into a UAV developer and is intent on seizing a share of the global UAV market, including in China.

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According to Focus Taiwan, AI-Rider, a Taiwanese UAV developer that applies its devices to disaster rescue and industrial exploration efforts, said it has secured orders from local governments in China after building up its contacts there through nine trips organized by the TAITRA.

Sales in the China UAV autopilot system market will reach about US$8.13 billion a year, the report said, citing Zhang Feng, secretary-general of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) of China.

He said the UAV devices have been applied to a wide range of usages in the agricultural and industrial sectors and even in the entertainment business, and their scope is expected to grow.

Though Taiwanese firms have been upbeat about the China market, the report said, they are faced with stiff competition from Shenzhen-based DJI Innovations, which has taken a 70 percent share of the world’s UAV autopilot system market [sic].

And that competition could be growing. According to Zhang, there are 300-400 private firms in China developing UAVs.