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
"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.
government sees it as a commercial coup for fast-growing market
satellite navigation services for cars, mobile phones and other
China is encouraging other countries in Asia to adopt it by offering
the service free, as the United States does with the civilian GPS
[to top of second column]
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
The newspaper said 40 percent of Beidou's satellite applications
would be for military use.
(Editing by Robert Birsel)
[© 2013 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2013 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.