China’s GPS system BeiDou to expand

China’s home-grown BeiDou Navigation Satellite System (BDS), a GPS-like global positioning system, will expand its footprints to Sri Lanka, Thailand and later to the entire Southeast Asia, in a bid to go global, the system’s operator has said.

Du Li, general manager of Wuhan Optics Valley BeiDou Holding Group Co., told Xinhua recently that his company will continue to explore models for international scientific and technical cooperation on BDS, including the joint construction of base stations, joint technical development and research, personnel training and exchanges, and others.

Wuhan Optics Valley BeiDou established the first batch of three overseas Continuously Operating Reference Stations (CORS) and its networking for BDS in Chonburi Province, eastern Thailand in December 2013, while it is also planning to build a China-ASEAN science and technology city in Thailand for promoting BDS applications.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) consists of 10 countries, including Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos.

Wuhan Optics Valley BeiDou this year will cooperate with Lankan related authorities to develop at least 10 CORS in the South Asian country for such applications as land surveying and mapping, ocean fishery and disaster warning, Du said.

The establishment of CORS in Thailand and Sri Lanka will extend the BDS coverage at least 3,000-km more towards Southeast Asia and South Asia, Du said.

Wuhan Optics Valley BeiDou is based in Wuhan, capital city of Hubei Province in central China. It is in charge of the operations and services of BDS. By the end of 2016, BDS already had a constellation of 32 satellites.

The Belt and Road Initiative is an opportunity for China’s space science and technology, said Li Deren, a professor at a state key laboratory in Wuhan University located in Wuhan.

“Our priority is to expand BDS from China to the frontline of the Belt and Road Initiative, and Optics Valley BeiDou is a pioneer,” Li said.

China-made smartphones, such as Huawei smartphones, will be good platforms for BDS to go overseas as they carry Chinese chips, Li said. (NIE)

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