As China’s answer to the US-owned GPS satellite navigation system, the Beidou navigation system is a Chinese national strategic project participated in by several companies across the country.
Located in Wuhan, the capital of Hubei province, the Optic Valley Beidou Holding Group is the leading company exporting Beidou navigation technology, with the first stop for the Chinese satellite navigation system abroad being Thailand.
The cooperation stems from a visit by Thai Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn to Hubei nine years ago.
Thailand is often hit by rainstorms, and when the princess visited the Wuhan Geospatial Information Center, she asked the scientists whether China could provide detailed weather information and images of when weather disasters might happen in Thailand.
Their response was positive – the Chinese company had the relevant technology and it would cost less than a similar service provided by companies in Western countries.
“The Beidou system is in operation, and in lower altitude areas in Asia, the Beidou system has advantages over GPS. Especially in cities that have a lot of high-rises, the urban canyon effect can interfere with GPS signals, whereas the interference for the Beidou system is minor,” said Ran Chengqi, director of the China Satellite Navigation Office.
Thailand opened its door to the Beidou system in 2012, and Bangkok is the first overseas user of the system.
Three Beidou ground stations have been already built in Chonburi province in eastern Thailand to increase the accuracy of data from the system.
He Yanxiang, deputy chairman of Optics Valley, oversees the project in Thailand. He said 220 ground stations in Thailand will be built in the future, and once all the stations are operational, the Beidou system will be able to provide position data to the centimeter, helping Thai residents deal with disasters and improve their agriculture and transportation.
Currently, 16 Beidou satellites operate in space and, in the next six years, China will launch more. It is estimated that by 2020, Beidou will have 32 satellites in orbit whose signals will be cover the world.
Investment in the Beidou project has mounted to 10 billion yuan ($1.6 billion).
The project in Thailand is just the first step of Optic Valley’s ambitious business in the Asia-Pacific region. The company has been seeking cooperation with other Southeast Asian countries, including Brunei, Laos, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines and Singapore.
(China Daily 05/18/2015 page6)