Tunisia will host the second forum on Chinese and Arab country cooperation on the use and adoption of the Chinese global navigation satellite system (GNSS), named BeiDou, in the first half of 2019.
The BeiDou Navigation Satellite System (BDS) will provide services to countries and regions involved in the China-led Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) by the end of 2018; by around 2020, BDS will have “gone global” said Ma Jiaqing, deputy director of the China Satellite Navigation Office, in an article posted on Xinhuanet, based on a report from sources at the 13th Meeting of the International Committee on Global Navigation Satellite Systems (ICG).
“We will push forward the BDS system serving Arab countries in the future,” Ma said.
The first forum on BeiDou cooperation between China and Arab countries was held in Shanghai in 2017. Then, in April 2018, the China-Arab States BDS/GNSS Center was officially inaugurated in Tunisia.
China’s BDS is recognized globally along with the U.S. Global Positioning System (GPS), the EU’s Galileo Positioning System and Russia’s Global Navigation Satellite System (GLONASS), according to Xinhuanet.
The aim of the ICG is to strengthen coordination and cooperation in satellite navigation, as well as promote its global application. China became a member of the ICG in September 2007.
Tunisia is home to a regional BDS centre, located in Tunis. The China-Arab States BDS/GNSS Centre was created in 2016 as a pilot programme between China and the Arab Information and Communication Technology Organization (AICTO), also headquartered in Tunisia, which is an Arab regional organisation under the auspices of the League of Arab States (known as the Arab League). The China-Arab States BDS/GNSS Centre promotes the global capabilities and applications of Beidou.
The Beidou satellite navigation system is being promoted as an integral part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) – its signature infrastructure development project across Eurasia, the Indian Ocean, and Africa. A large number of Arab countries in the Middle East and North Africa are participating in the BRI and are also developing their satellite-based infrastructure.