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China-EU Negotiations on Navigation System to Start
The negotiations between China and the European Union (EU) on China's participation in EU's Galileo Program are expected to begin next March.

The Galileo Program, which will include the launch of 30 satellites, is the EU's plan to set up its own global navigation satellite system (GNSS).

Once it is completed, the Galileo Program will add to the two already existing independent systems in the world - the global positioning system (GPS) of the United States and the Glonass system of Russia.

The two systems, especially the GPS, are widely used across the world in various ways, including in cars so that their location can be specifically traced.

A proposal for starting the negotiations will be submitted to the EU council of ministers next March, said Olivier Onidi, head of the unit responsible for the Galileo Program of the European Commission.

It is very likely that the proposal will be given consent by the council, because "the political will is there," he said.

Onidi was attending a two-day China-Europe Galileo Industry Seminar, which opened yesterday in Beijing for Chinese and EU companies related to the GNSS industry to talk with each other and seek opportunities for co-operation.

Top Chinese and EU officials have held discussions on China's participation in the program, said Ma Songde, China's vice-minister of science and technology.

He said the GNSS industry has a future in a broad range of applications, especially civil uses.

The Ministry of Science and Technology will spare no efforts to bring China into the Galileo Program, Ma added.

Interchanges between China and the EU on satellite navigation techniques have already taken place, Ma said.

A working group for co-operation on satellite navigation techniques between the two sides was established last October.

In addition, preparations are being made to set up a Sino-EU office for satellite navigation in Beijing.

Since the space and navigation industry in China took its first step in 1956, the country has made remarkable progress, said Li Benzheng, deputy director of the department of system engineering under the China National Space Administration.

The country has developed systems for study, manufacturing and experimentation in the industry and has trained a group of high level professionals, Li noted.

(China Daily December 18, 2002)

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