China plans to launch six to eight Beidou Navigation Satellite Systems this year to accelerate its expansion into economies along the Belt and Road Initiative trade route.
The plan is a perfect example of the advocacies of Premier Li Keqiang that he presented in the National People's Congress on promoting the Belt and Road Initiative while helping Chinese companies globalize their equipment and homegrown technologies.
The Beidou Navigation Satellite System is a product of the Chinese National Space Administration and managed by the China Satellite Navigation Office. China is planning to build a constellation of 35 Beidou satellites by 2020 as part of its go-global strategy plan.
Miao Qianjun, secretary-general of the Global Navigation Satellite System and Location-based Services Association of China, said: "The globalization era for Beidou is coming. China is supporting Beidou's exports roughly the same way it supports exports of high-speed railway products and technologies. Beidou will become another high-tech name card for China."
The GLAC invited its enterprise members that are involved in Beidou-related industries for discussions last month. They joined together with the National Development and Reform Commission to set up an alliance for enterprises that seek to take Beidou products and solutions to markets that are along the Belt and Road trade route.
According to Miao, the GLAC received affirmative responses from 27 enterprises within a week, which indicate that alliance members will receive financial support from the government.
The steady improvements in Beidou's technologies contributed to improving the accuracy of its navigation and location-detection systems. Earlier this year, China announced that Beidou's satellites will be able to locate ground-based users with an accuracy level of 1 or 2 meters of their exact location using a new chip.
The precision of Beidou's satellite is just behind the Galileo Satellite System of the European Union, which has an accuracy level of just 1 meter. Given the potential of China's navigation system to compete globally, the country is accelerating steps to expand the coverage area of Beidou.
"China will launch six to eight satellites this year. After constructing a network of 18 satellites by around 2018, we will serve economies along the Belt and Road Initiative," said Yang Yuanxi, an academician with the Chinese Academy of Sciences and a member of the CPPCC National Committee