Satellite navigation system could be used for transport, mapping, surveys
China and Arab states will work together to promote the use of China’s Beidou Navigation Satellite System in the Arab world, according to a statement following an industry forum on May 24.
The two sides have pledged to strengthen their communication and collaboration in satellite navigation and to bring Beidou-based services to Arab states to enhance social and economic development, according to the statement, which was released after the First China-Arab States Beidou System Cooperation Forum in Shanghai.
Cooperative projects based on the requirements and priorities of Arab states will be created, and joint efforts will be made to employ the Beidou system in a variety of sectors in the Arab world, such as transportation, land mapping, surveying, agriculture and public security, the statement said. China will assist Arab states in boosting the development of satellite navigation.
More than 80 representatives from the 21-member League of Arab States and about 120 Chinese officials, researchers and businesspeople took part in the event.
Wang Li, chairman of the China Satellite Navigation Committee, said at the forum that the Beidou system will be able to provide positioning and navigation services to Arab states starting at the end of 2018.
He said China has maintained regular contact since 2014 with Arab nations such as Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Algeria, as well as with regional organizations such as the Secretariat of the League of Arab States and the Arab Information and Communication Technologies Organization, to discuss the promotion, personnel training, joint research and development of the Beidou system.
Mohamed Ben Amor, secretary-general of the information organization, said a joint center of excellence for the Beidou system will be opened in November in Tunis, capital of Tunisia, and will serve Arab states through personnel training and technological research.
“We want to take advantage of all of Beidou’s applications to benefit Arab states,” he said.
Tests in Doha, Qatar, in May last year showed local ground facilities could receive signals from eight Beidou satellites at that time. That means the Beidou system can independently provide positioning, navigation and timing services to local users, with accuracy as good as other space-based navigation systems used there, said Ma Jiaqing, deputy director of the China Satellite Navigation Office.
Beidou is the fourth navigation satellite system in the world, following the United States’ GPS, the Russian GLONASS and the European Union’s Galileo.
So far, 23 Beidou satellites have been launched to create the space-based positioning and navigation network. The first was launched in 2000 and the most recent in June. The system began providing positioning, navigation, timing and messaging services to civilian users in China and parts of the Asia-Pacific region in December 2012.
The country plans to launch six to eight Beidou satellites into space this year.
According to plans from the China Satellite Navigation Office, the network will be made up of 35 satellites in 2020 to give Beidou global coverage.