China says satellite network to be big asset, others can use it too

BEIJING Fri Dec 27, 2013 1:20am EST

Long March 3C, carrying the 6th Beidou navigational satellite, lifts off from the launch pad at the Xichang Satellite Launch Center, Sichuan province, November 1, 2010. REUTERS/Stringer

Long March 3C, carrying the 6th Beidou navigational satellite, lifts off from the launch pad at the Xichang Satellite Launch Center, Sichuan province, November 1, 2010.

Credit: Reuters/Stringer

Related Topics

BEIJING (Reuters) - China's homegrown satellite navigation system will bring untold economic, social and military benefits and other countries in Asia are welcome to use it, the director of China's satellite navigation agency said on Friday.

The year-old Beidou satellite navigation system is a rival to the U.S. Global Positioning System (GPS) and Russian GLONASS. Beidou's 16 satellites serve the Asia-Pacific but the number of satellites is expected to grow to 30 by 2020 as coverage expands globally.

The system would bring benefits across the board, in both civilian and military applications, said Ran Chengqi, the director of the Satellite Navigation Office.

"The construction of the Beidou network should resolve the country's security issues, including economic security and the security of society-at-large," he said. "It's obviously a combined military and civilian infrastructure."

"What purpose it will have for national defense or armament, that's for the armament department or Defense Ministry to consider, but I think that its uses are many," Ran told a news conference.

The successful deployment of Beidou means the increasingly potent Chinese armed forces will have an accurate, independent navigation system - vital technology for guiding the missiles, warships and attack aircraft that allow Beijing to claim great power status.

Senior Chinese military officers have said Beidou is more important for the country than manned space flight or the Chinese lunar probes now under way, according to reports in the state-run media.

But the benefits are by no means limited to defense.

The government sees it as a commercial coup for fast-growing market satellite navigation services for cars, mobile phones and other applications.

China is encouraging other countries in Asia to adopt it by offering the service free, as the United States does with the civilian GPS network.

Stations are being built in Pakistan to improve service there and Thailand has signed up to use Beidou for disaster forecasting.

"It's completely open," Ran said. "Technology and service both."

"Even though we still do not provide global coverage, its applications are already spreading worldwide," he said.

This month, the cabinet approved a blueprint that envisioned Beidou capturing 60 percent of a projected 400 billion yuan ($65 billion) market for satellite navigation services in China, according to the China Daily.

The newspaper said 40 percent of Beidou's satellite applications would be for military use.

(Editing by Robert Birsel)

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see
Comments (13)
Free_Pacific wrote:
“China is not fighting any wars and has not fought any wars since 1979, so its statements focus on peaceful uses for its Beidou system.”

Propaganda at it’s maximum.

Chinese Border Wars VS Vietnam. 1988 (Vietnam)
Occupation of Johnson South Reef 1988 (Vietnam)
Occupation of Mischief Reef 1994 (The Philippines)
Occupation of Scarborough Shoal 2012 (The Philippines)

Military adventures increasing. Claims of ‘Indisputable Sovereignty’ by discovery ‘hundreds of years ago’. Despite 65,000 years of human (non-Chinese) history and ownership of the region.

Dec 27, 2013 7:16pm EST  --  Report as abuse
BiteRight wrote:
The Chinese Beidou System is designed hybrid for civilian and military purposes. The civilian part goes commercial to users of neighboring countries that in turn fund R&D of another arm. Beidou can monitor activity of spy satellites. Upon this infrastructure, China intends to develop low-orbit space weapons. The jade rabbit moon project is just distracting smog.

Dec 28, 2013 2:52am EST  --  Report as abuse
WestFlorida wrote:
The most essential purpose of this satellite system is to enable the Chinese military to target American and other ships and installations.

Dec 28, 2013 7:26am EST  --  Report as abuse
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

Track China's Leaders