In a strategic move, China is ready to offer its neighbouring nations use of its indigenously developed Beidou Satellite Navigation System (BDS) free of charge. The offer has generated interest from a number of nations including Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Thailand.
As per the Chinese government, the country wants to expand the use of the BDS, which already has 16 satellites operating for the Asia-Pacific and is being promoted as an alternative to the US’ Global Positioning System (GPS). China intends to offer BDS to nations in the Asia-Pacific region, and particularly in South and Southeast Asia, where the satellites can provide the highest accuracy.
Countries interested in Beidou Navigation System:
China has already reached agreement with Pakistan and Thailand on use of the Beidou network. It is in talks with Sri Lanka, for which it has already launched a satellite, and Bangladesh, over cooperation on satellite use. In early2014, Thailand will become the first country to set up a satellite station based on Beidou, with both nations signing a $ 319 million deal.
What is Beidou Satellite Navigation System (BDS)?
Beidou Satellite Navigation System (BDS) is a Chinese satellite navigation system. It consists of two separate satellite constellations:
Beidou-1: A limited test system that has been operating since 2000
Beidou-2 : A full-scale global navigation system which is also known as COMPASS and is currently under construction as of January 2013 . Beidou-2 will have 35 satellites in its network.
Objective of Beidou Satellite Navigation System (BDS):
Initially, when the BDS was launched in 2011, it was serving only the government and military. However, over the past year the navigation system is being widely used for civilian purposes domestically. In China, around 80% of passenger buses and trucks use the BDS. Now China intends to expand its satellite navigation services to Asia-Pacific and to South and South-East Asia regions.