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Netizen laments US media bias: revealing the facts of Beidou Satellite

(Photo: Xinhua)

On July 29, 2023, CNBC published a 13-minute video titled "How China Is Threatening U.S. GPS Dominance" on the YouTube platform.

The video's description alleged that the BeiDou Navigation Satellite System (BDS) "supports China's military ambitions."

In the video, Rep. Mikie Sherrill, the Co-Chair of the House GPS Caucus, stated, "The bigger fear right now is really that you will see a migration into this Beidou system, where people suddenly have apps on their phones utilizing this system, which then becomes a tracking, information, and surveillance device for the Chinese."

In the comment section below the video, highly upvoted replies included, "An average citizen can see the US media bias. It's pathetic." Another commentator noted, "The title should be: How China is de-risking from the US GPS monopoly."

Why does China develop its own system for mapping? Is it really threatening U.S. GPS dominance? GDToday finds the answers.

The Development of China's BeiDou Navigation Satellite System

In 1994, China began developing an independent satellite navigation system, which later became the BeiDou Navigation Satellite System (BDS). By the end of 2000, China had completed the BeiDou-1 system, making it the third country in the world to possess a satellite navigation system. In 2012, China established the BeiDou-2 system, providing passive positioning services to the Asia-Pacific region. In 2020, the BeiDou-3 system was officially completed and opened, providing satellite navigation services globally. On December 26, 2023, China successfully launched the 57th and 58th BeiDou navigation satellites. Currently, the BeiDou-3 navigation satellite system, with 30 satellites, provides free services to global users, achieving a horizontal positioning accuracy better than 9 meters, a vertical positioning accuracy better than 10 meters, a speed measurement accuracy better than 0.2 meters per second, and a timing accuracy better than 20 nanoseconds, serving over 1.1 billion users worldwide.

The Importance of Having an Independent Satellite Navigation System

Currently, satellite navigation systems around the world include China's BeiDou Navigation Satellite System (BDS), the United States' Global Positioning System (GPS), Russia's Global Navigation Satellite System (GLONASS), the European Union's Galileo satellite navigation system (GALILEO), Japan's QZSS, and India's IRNSS, as well as regional augmentation systems such as the United States' WASS, Japan's MSAS, the European Union's EGNOS, India's GAGAN, and Nigeria's NIG-COMSAT-1. Among them, China's BeiDou Navigation Satellite System (BDS), the United States' Global Positioning System (GPS), Russia's Global Navigation Satellite System (GLONASS), and the European Union's Galileo satellite navigation system (GALILEO) are recognized as the four major global satellite navigation systems.

During the Gulf War, the United States' GPS satellite navigation system was first used on a large scale. With the support of GPS, the accuracy of navigation and positioning in the war was greatly improved. In March 1999, during NATO's air strikes against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, precision-guided weapons equipped with GPS chips played a leading role. China began exploring the use of GPS in the 1980s, and since the beginning of the 21st century, the application of GPS by Chinese enterprises has increased significantly. While China's economy has benefited from this, as an emerging independent country, China cannot overlook the limitations of long-term reliance on foreign satellite navigation systems and the significant importance of developing its own satellite navigation system for national security protection. This is why, despite the existence of GPS, countries still strive to develop their own satellite navigation systems.

The Global Benefit of BeiDou Navigation Satellite System

In the Wanbao Mozambique Agricultural Park in the city of Xai-Xai, Gaza Province, Mozambique, which was built through cooperation between China and Africa, Ma Singe, a demonstration farmer, is changing the battery of a plant protection drone. After replacing the battery, he opens his mobile phone app, sets the next flight path and return point, presses a button, and the drone takes off, spraying pesticides accurately according to the set path. The airflow generated by the rotating wings blows away the rice seedlings, leaving a green trail. This drone utilizes the BeiDou system to obtain positioning information, making it easy to operate and spray evenly, helping local farmers reduce labor input and improve work efficiency.

In the Jazarah Science and Technology Park in the northern suburbs of Tunis, the capital of Tunisia, the China-Arab States BeiDou/GNSS Center is located amidst coconut trees, providing satellite navigation training, testing and evaluation, and technical research for African and Arab countries. Amri Khalil, the Secretary of State for Scientific Research Affairs at the Tunisian Ministry of Higher Education, stated that the China-Arab States BeiDou/GNSS Center helps African countries like Tunisia cultivate more satellite navigation talent, supports digital economic development, utilizes relevant technological platforms, promotes the application of satellite navigation technology, and achieves mutually beneficial cooperation.

The "China's BeiDou in the New Era" white paper published on the official website of Chinese Government, strongly expresses China's desire to share the achievements of scientific and technological development with the world through such statements as "providing open satellite navigation services free of charge, continuously enhancing global public service capabilities. Actively conducting international cooperation and exchanges, advocating and strengthening the compatibility and shared use of multiple systems." "Deepening the application and promotion of the BeiDou system, promoting the high-quality development of the BeiDou industry, integrating it into various industries, and enabling production and life. Sharing the achievements of China's satellite navigation system's construction and development with the world to achieve mutual benefit and win-win results."

Author | Steven Yuen, Zeng Xiaotao (intern)

Editor | Will, James

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