SCIO briefing on China's BeiDou Navigation Satellite System

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Mr. Ran Chengqi, director of China's Satellite Navigation System Management Office and spokesperson of the BeiDou system

Hu Kaihong, vice director-general of the Press Bureau, State Council Information Office

June 16, 2016

Hu Kaihong:

Good morning ladies, gentlemen and our friends from the press. Welcome to the press conference of the State Council Information Office (SCIO). Today, we will release the White Paper on China's BeiDou Navigation Satellite System, brief you on its main content and share with you the information of the BeiDou system. This white paper is the 100th one released by the SCIO. Mr. Ran Chengqi, director of China's Satellite Navigation System Management Office and spokesperson of the BeiDou system, is present at this press conference.

First of all, please allow me to make a brief introduction to the white paper. The BeiDou Navigation Satellite System (hereinafter referred to as the BDS) has been independently built and operated by China to cope with the needs of the country's national security and economic and social development. As a space infrastructure of national significance, the BDS provides all-time, all-weather and high-accuracy positioning, navigation and timing services to global users. At the end of 2012, it began to provide services to the Asia-Pacific region, thus becoming the world's third satellite system in formal operation.

The BDS has achieved notable economic and social benefits, as it has been widely used in many sectors and regions across China, and entered the mass market in sectors like smart phones and wearable devices.

The white paper we are going to release is the first one released by the Chinese government on China's navigation satellite system. It gives us a comprehensive picture of the system's development, explains its concepts, showcases its achievements and highlights its future. Containing around 5,800 words, the paper consists of three parts, a preface, main text and conclusion.

The white paper reiterates that "the BDS is developed by China and dedicated to the world" and under the principles of "independence, openness, compatibility and gradualness," China will provide continuous, stable and reliable services for global users. It also stresses that China will actively push forward international cooperation related to the BDS, work with all other countries, regions and international organizations to promote global satellite navigation development, and help the BDS to better serve the world and benefit mankind.

The paper is available in multiple languages, including Chinese, English, French, Russian, German, Spanish, Arabic and Japanese. The Chinese and English versions have been printed by the People's Publishing House and the Foreign Languages Press. You can find them now in every Xinhua Bookstore in China.

That's all for me. Now, let's welcome Mr. Ran Chengqi to give us an introduction to the BDS.

Ran Chengqi:

Ladies and gentlemen, it's my pleasure to meet our friends from the press here. First of all, I would like to thank you all for your keen attention to and strong support for the BDS.

The Chinese government has attached great importance to the construction and development of the BDS. Under the principle that "the BDS is developed by China and dedicated to the world" and the principles of "independence, openness, compatibility and gradualness," we have taken a series of measures to promote a sustainable development of the system and pushed forward its industrialization and globalization processes. As one of China's national key technical projects supporting the national innovative development strategy, as well as one of the national strategic emerging industries, the BDS has been included into the country's overall economic and social development plan. In the future, we will continue to promote its globalization, so as to serve the Belt and Road Initiative and serve the world and better benefit mankind. Step by step, we will make the BDS a crucial international infrastructure that serves the world, and make it a world renowned Chinese brand.

Ran Chengqi:

Please allow me to introduce the satellite system in three parts:

I. Construction and operation

The construction of the BeiDou Navigation Satellite System (BDS) is based on China's national conditions. With a goal of building a world-class system, BeiDou vows to explore the development of a navigation satellite system with Chinese characteristics.

Firstly, BDS suits China's national conditions. The BDS development follows a model of developing regional service capacities then gradually extending the service to a global scale. In line with a three-step development strategy, the system will establish an independent high-accuracy spatial-temporal standard and provide service for Asia-Pacific users in a short time.

Secondly, the BDS features a unique technology system. Its space segment is a hybrid constellation consisting of satellites in three kinds of orbits: Geostationary Earth Orbit, Inclined Geosynchronous Satellite Orbit and Medium Earth Orbit. It provides users with special services such as multi-frequency navigation signaling and short message communication.

Thirdly, the BDS operates safely and stably. Since providing service in the Asia-Pacific region in 2012, the BDS has operated stably with positioning accuracy of less than 10 meters, fully meeting current standards.

Fourthly, BDS's system performance will be promoted continuously. Till now, all the key technologies of networking have been conquered. In the future, the stability of a constellation providing regional service will be enhanced, and the capabilities of the system service will be promoted. The BeiDou Ground Base Enhancement System (BGBES) has set up ground base stations throughout the whole country and began to provide meter- and decimeter-level real-time positioning service for users in China.

II. Application and Industrialization

The Chinese government attaches great importance to the BDS application and industrialization, and promotes it as a strategic emerging industry. At present, China has built a complete BDS industrial chain comprised of chip modules, application terminals and operation services, and has set up three systems, including industrial supporting, application promotion and innovation.

Regarding industrial supporting systems, the Chinese government has formulated relevant policies to improve the establishment of satellite navigation standard systems, promote the standards of verification and implementation and build a comprehensive service system of location data.

Regarding the industrial application promotion system, great efforts are being made to promote the application of BDS technologies and products, especially in key sectors related to national security and economy. It also orients to the mass market in the sectors of smart phones, vehicle-borne terminals and wearable devices.

Regarding innovation system, China is developing chips, modules, antennae and other basic products based on the BDS and other compatible systems, while encouraging the construction of satellite navigation technology innovation system and promoting integrated development of the BeiDou and Internet plus, big data, cloud computing and other new technologies.

Thanks to efforts from both the central and local governments, the BDS has extended its application to the mass market, and its application scale has been enlarged. The benefits brought by the BDS are surfacing both in economic and social areas.

III. International cooperation and exchange

The BDS belongs to both China and the world. China will push forward the international development of the BDS, actively carry out international cooperation and exchanges in this field, so as to enable the BDS to serve the world and benefit mankind.

The first goal is to carry out cooperation between the BDS and other navigation satellite systems. China will strengthen compatibility and interoperability with other navigation satellite systems, so as to provide users with more qualified, diversified, safe and reliable services.

The second goal is to actively participate in activities in the field of international satellite navigation. China will actively participate in international satellite navigation affairs, attend activities held by the International Committee on Global Navigation Satellite Systems (ICG), International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and other relevant international organizations, support academic exchanges and cooperation in this area and promote satellite navigation applications with the contribution of the BDS.

The third goal is to promote the ratification of the BDS by international standards. Currently, positive efforts are being made to advance the recognition of the BDS in the International Civil Aviation Organization, International Maritime Organization, Third-Generation Mobile Communication Standard Partnership Project, and other organizations, which constitutes the foundation of BDS's international development.

The fourth goal is to implement BDS's international promotion. Till now, the BDS has cooperated with companies in Pakistan, Thailand, ASEAN and the League of Arab States, making the system an important brand and name card of the whole country.

China will continue to push with the construction of the BDS, improve its performance and promote its application. China wishes to advance BDS's service performance, promote the popularization in this field with all countries and users worldwide and make BDS promote the wellbeing of all people and help develop social development.

Thank you. I would now like to take your questions.

Hu Kaihong:

Thank you, Director Ran. Now it's time for questions. May I kindly remind you to inform us of what media outlet you represent before asking your question?


It has been more than four years since the BeiDou system started functioning in the Asia-Pacific Region. We would like to know how it is running now and what its plan is to provide service globally.

Ran Chengqi:

The BeiDou Navigation Satellite System officially began its service in 2012, covering the territory of the Asia-Pacific Region. During the past three years, the major functioning of the system has been ameliorated at a stable pace. First, we have ensured the continuous and steady running of the system at the usable rate of 99.996%, which is higher than the required index of at least 95% when the system has openly offered its services. Also, the rate of continuity has surpassed the fundamental criterion of 99.5% and reached 99.986%. Based on this data, we are able to say that the functioning of our system can be guaranteed.

Regarding the precise location, we have made a test in the Asia-Pacific region on a wide basis and collected data from users during testing, which subsequently indicates that the functioning of our system has been substantially improved. For example, the systems in Beijing, Urumqi and Xi'an -- the primary cities of the coverage -- can be precise within a distance of five meters. The test in low-latitude countries, like Thailand, also showed precise locating abilities within a distance of five meters. The tests ran well in the regions of western Asian countries which are beyond its official coverage, such as Qatar and Kuwait, where the mechanism can fulfill its mission within a distance of ten meters. Therefore the application of the BeiDou Navigation Satellite System in the Asia-Pacific region has been in good operation and trustful.

Ran Chengqi:

We have started to build a global system while the BDS-2 provides service in the Asia-Pacific region. We have overcome all the challenges and completed all the key technologies, including shaping technological mechanisms, building connections among satellites and guaranteeing the high precision of the Global Position System (GPS) satellite clock—all have been undergoing relevant technological verification. Since 2015, we have consecutively launched five new satellites and two alternative satellites for regional service. As you know, we launched a new satellite for backup on June 12, 2016, therefore, the satellites can better support the present system and be tested and operated for global system when the timing is appropriate.

Looking ahead, we plan to further confirm and consolidate satellite technologies after the testing of technological capabilities of the five new satellites, which are endeavored to pave road for global system. The general plan is slated to launch about 18 satellites into space around 2018 to provide fundamental services for the countries involved in the "Belt and Road" initiative and complete a global system around 2020.

China Radio International:

As one of the four major navigation satellite systems in the world, China's BeiDou Navigation Satellite System (BDS) is gaining a greater international influence. Can you tell us what kind of work China performed with regard to global cooperation and exchange?

Ran Chengqi:

I just mentioned the principle that "the BDS is developed by China, and dedicated to the world". My understanding about this is that China should independently build and operate the BDS and make it more international. We also vowed to turn the BDS into one of the most advanced navigation satellite systems in the world, which means internationalization is a must. To be "most advanced", it requires equal or better quality compared with other global navigation satellite systems, an innovative technical system, excellent user experience and complete internationalization.

Ran Chengqi:

Internationalization should be addressed simultaneously with the building and application of the BDS. So far, we have done the following work to make the system more internationalized. The first thing we did is to deepen bilateral cooperation with other major navigation satellite systems such as the United States' GPS, Russia's Glonass, and Europe's Galileo. Two rounds of talks were held between the US and Chinese governments, generating an agreement and a joint statement on the cooperation between the two systems. A BDS-Glonass cooperation committee has been set up within the framework of the regular meeting between the Chinese and Russian premiers. A joint declaration and an application agreement have been inked after rounds of negotiation, and we will exert greater efforts in producing an inter-government agreement. As for the cooperation with the Galileo system, frequency coordination has been done and the building of an inter-government cooperation mechanism has begun.

Ran Chengqi:

The second thing we did is to further multi-lateral cooperation. We actively participate in international organizations such as the International Committee on Global Navigation Satellite Systems (ICG) and the International Telecommunication Union. China is a founding member of the ICG and has made its own contributions to the development of the global navigation satellite system with tremendous constructive initiatives.

Ran Chengqi:

The third thing we did is to actively promote the application of the BDS in the Asia-Pacific region, especially in the countries and organizations involved in the "Belt and Road Initiative", such as Pakistan, South Korea, Australia, Saudi Arabia, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the League of Arab States. We will focus on technology exchange, training, and application. I would like to point out that our training efforts will be conducted under the supervision of the country's foreign aid project.

The fourth thing we did is to spare no effort in getting the BDS ratified by the relevant international organizations for standardization in the fields of international civil aviation, maritime affairs, and mobile communication, among others. The BDS has become the third navigation satellite system ratified by the International Maritime Organization, and the International Civil Aviation Organization is also speeding up its recognition work. The BDS has also been formally ratified by the International Mobile Communication Organization. Through these means, we are trying to boost the development of the BDS while advancing its application and international cooperation.

China National Radio:

Today's big data, including the cloud-computing industry, has seencompelling growth. It wasalso mentioned in the White Paper released today that China's BeiDou Navigation Satellite System will be developed while integrating big data, the Internet Plus strategy and cloud computing. Could you elaborate on your perspective? What will you do for integrated development? Have any companies showed a willingness to cooperate with Internet Plus and big data? Could you tell us your plan in thisrespect?

Ran Chengqi:

The information industry is often mentioned as havingthree economic pillars, that is, the Internet, mobile communication and satellite navigation. With the development of information technology, they are experiencing integration and fusion, among which the location-based service industry relianton satellite navigation,has shown vigorous vitality. We follow the trend of the changing information technology field and promote the integration of the BeiDou system with big data, cloud computing, the Internet and mobile communication. In recent years, we have made great achievements in developing the technology industry. For example, we have first found a solution forthe base products of the BeiDou system and formed a complete industry chain from thechip to the terminal and industry application services. We are also pushing the fusion of the BeiDou system with other information technology, which is forming a new model involving the BeiDou system, the Internet and other industries. You mightnotice that many innovative concepts have been emerging. The BeiDou system has realized its application to the internet of vehicles in improvingvehicle safety and reducing the empty-loading ratio. The system has also realizedemergency rescue, disaster and weather forecasts in the internet of vessels, product tracing and food safety supervision in the internet of things, and care for the elderly and children in the internet of people. Many products have been developed, to be precise. At a recent exhibition of innovative technology achievements, we have seen BeiDou grazing, Beidou vegetable growing and Beidou space watch on display. I'm wearing this watch as we speak.The watch looks simple, but it can receive signals directly from the BeiDou satellite navigation system in the sky. Its time precision is very high, with 50 nanosecondaccuracy. It is supposed to be the most precise watch in the world. The watch can be used for location and navigation as well. Its pedometer and other functions make it functional and fashionable. The watch wasgiven access to the market and sells very well. This is only oneapplication of the BeiDou system. I believe that many of its applications have gone beyond our imagination. The BeiDou applications will help create new models and bring profound development to the nation's economyand society under the guidance of China's strategy of promoting public business and innovation. Thank you.


It is well-known that the BeiDou system is an important part of space information infrastructure for China. Can you elaborate on measures China takes on the levels of policies and legislation to ensure the sound and sustainable development of the BeiDou system? Thank you.

Ran Chengqi:

Actually, the development of satellite navigation demands greater attention from the government, so do its applications. The most support comes from alegislative level. The Chinese government has given great attention to the policies and documents demanded by the BeiDou system during its construction. Since we started to provide the BeiDou system service at the end of 2012, the State Council made it clear in the "Guidance on Promoting Information Consumption and Expanding Domestic Demands" enacted in 2013 that boosting of BeiDou system construction, applications and industry formation should be a vital part of the document. Then, related authorities also published a mid-to-long term plan regarding the national satellite navigation industry. Provinces, cities and industries issued related policies and standards as well to jointly boost the construction and application of the system. A welcome news is that the State Council has listed the Satellite Navigation Regulations of the People's Republic of China into its legislative plan this year. The formulation of the regulations will further promote the system's construction and applications, establish the system's legal status as an important part of national space information infrastructure, solidify and strengthen the system's space service capacity, demonstrate the system's capacity construction process in the name of the Chinese government, and facilitate a better service of the system for the world. Thank you.


Just now Director Ran showed us the Beidou Watch. What other products have been made for BDS application besides the watch? What effects have they had? Are there any promotions in Hong Kong?

Ran Chengqi:

I will give another detailed introduction about BDS application. At first, the general approach to the system involves overall planning and arrangements about applications of the various systems, industries and infrastructure, regarding international and domestic needs, applications and modes as well as construction and application which are mutually enhancing.

Moreover, priorities will be stressed regarding the core chip, antenna, terminal and card. It is nice that over the years, our country has realized completely autonomous control over core chip, terminal card and antenna technologies, which have reached advanced global standards.

Our country's best chip has attained the most advanced levels in the world with a 40-nanometer process line. The price of our cheapest chip is less than 10 yuan (US$1.52), lower than the price for similar products on the international market. In the extra-precision application industries, BDS products seize the main market flow. Extra-precision cards and antennae made up, respectively, 30 and 90 percent of the domestic market in the last year with sales of 120,000 and 500,000.

By this April, the number of terminals using Beidou technology has exceeded 24 million, and the sales of mobile phones with Beidou chips have exceeded 18 million. According to statistics, in this first quarter 30 percent of smart phones in China were equipped with Beidou chips. We can see a broad possibilities for the application of Beidou.

Ran Chengqi:

At present, we are planning to build a national extra-precision ground-based augmentation system network in China. Trial operations will start at the end of this year. The trial operational accuracy can reach decimeter level and the operational accuracy will reach centimeter grade. At that time, people will be able to experience excellent service at decimeter and centimeter level up from ten-meter levels. For instance, if we use high-accuracy application services to order a taxi, we don't need to pin down the last 100 or 10 meters by phone. The taxi would be able to pull up directly next us. In addition, high-accuracy application can provide mud-rock flow deformation monitoring, road and bridge monitoring, application of pilotless technology, driver education and training for a driver's license. As a special service of Beidou, high-accuracy application will revolutionize all location-based industries.

Ran Chengqi:

All of applications I mentioned above have been used in Hong Kong. The Hong Kong government stays in close touch with us. We have systematical and technological exchange, training for applications and station construction for corresponding examination and measurement. I think we will take Hong Kong as a part of China to make overall plans and arrangements. We also hope Hong Kong will make better use of Beidou system. Thank you.

China Report, China International Publishing Group:

According to a recent Xinhua report, the lighthouse built on the eastern end of the Meiji Reef is the highest building in the Nansha Islands, and it has used the remote monitoring and control terminals of the BeiDou Navigation Satellite System (BDS). Could you please briefly introduce the other specific applications of the BDS in terms of ship navigation, maritime salvage and oceanic scientific research in the South China Sea? Thank you.

Ran Chengqi:

Like any other satellite navigation system, the BDS has the function of passive-positioning. I describe this function as a radio mode which only needs to determine a position by receiving signals. At the same time, we have also retained the original characteristic services of the BDS-1, namely the active-positioning service and the short message communication service. The active-positioning service is a mobile phone model which needs to interact with satellites, but it is of benefit to location reporting and short message services. This characteristic application has particularly obvious advantages in areas where mobile communication or communication means are unsound or less developed. Therefore, maritime application is one of the most important development directions of the BDS. So far, we have installed BDS terminals in more than 40,000 fishing boats in the coastal areas. The move can achieve the goals of situation reporting, location reporting and information interaction. With the installation of BDS terminals, it helps fishermen use mobile phones to contact each other via the internet and greatly meet their needs for maritime communication. At the same time, it provides a very good way for information transmission between coastal islands and reefs. Therefore, it has been well received by local governments, fishery departments and fishermen in recent years. Fishermen often say to me that they put two things on their boats before going out for fishing -- the statue of Mazu and the BDS terminal. The former is considered the sacred sea goddess who blesses fishermen. Thus, it can be seen how important the BDS is in the eyes of fishermen. The prospects for BDS application can be broader. It should be said that, the BDS has made a great contribution to China's economic and social development.

Hong Kong Ta Kung Pao:

What is the latest situation of the BeiDou Navigation Satellite System (BDS) in serving the countries along the "Belt and Road?"

Ran Chengqi:

The "Belt and Road" Initiative is the overall development strategy of our country. The construction and application of the BDS must be subordinate to the initiative. We have several aspects of consideration. First, when promoting the globalization and application of the BDS-2, which has been in operation in orbit, we placed the countries along the "Belt and Road" as a key consideration. Our cooperation with these countries is comprehensive and involves technical exchange, technology transference training, educational training, product output, and even the establishment of joint ventures, system performance monitoring and high-accuracy positioning, all of which we will unreservedly introduce and recommend to the countries along the "Belt and Road."

It should be said that, we have already been in contact with many of these countries, including the above-mentioned Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Myanmar, Egypt, Iran, Indonesia and other countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the League of Arab States. We have very good cooperation with them and many projects have been included in substantive plans. While cooperating with Pakistan, we have completed the first phase of its national geographic positioning network, and the promotion of the second phase of the project is under discussion.

In the process of global system construction, we give priority to the projects serving the "Belt and Road" Initiative. Earlier, I said that we will launch 18 satellites to solve the problem of the coverage area along the "Belt and Road" and at the same time, we will further enhance the performance of the BDS. We also hope that the countries along the "Belt and Road" will be able to learn more about the BDS and view it as important means of supporting information services. At the same time, we will do our best to speed up and promote the construction and application. Thank you.


How deeply has the People's Liberation Army relied on the BeiDou system so far? And which foreign countries is the BeiDou system aspiring to expand to?

Ran Chengqi:

It is known that the navigation satellite system is of national significance and also a system used by both the military and civilians. The Chinese navigation satellite system also follows the strategic needs of the country, including its social and economic development and national security. Therefore, the construction of the system should contribute to China's national defense. Regarding its use in other countries, we not only collaborate with major countries – for example the United States, Russia and European Union – but also with countries that are a part of the Belt and Road initiative; moreover, we work actively with various international and multilateral organizations. In a word, we are promoting the international cooperation and application of the system on all fronts.


Just to be clear, how many countries are using the BeiDou system? And what are the advantages and disadvantages of the BeiDou system compared to the world's other three major navigation satellite systems?

Ran Chengqi:

We have a rough estimation that the BeiDou system and BeiDou-related products -- including average ones and high-accuracy ones -- have been used in more than 30 countries around the world. The number of cases of technological cooperation is more than that. BeiDou's functions are comparable to GPS and GLONASS. Next we'll build a world-class system. BeiDou needs to improve in two aspects. First, it is not globally available, so we will accelerate pursuance of that objective. Second, we will seek highly-reliable, non-stop and stable operation, because these are features needed by all users. In addition, we will also develop the final product so that it can bring into being an entire industry chain. Thank you.

Hu Kaihong:

Now ends the press conference for today. Thank you, director Ran. Thank you all our friends from the press. See you next time.

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