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Space Silk Road: China And Arab States Pledge To Increase Applications For Beidou GNSS

An artists’ conception of China’s Beidou satellite navigation system, the backbone of the Chinese Space Silk Road. Image courtesy of www.snipview.com

The second China-Arab States BDS Cooperation Forum was held in the Tunisian capital city of Tunis on 1 April 2019 to discuss measures and initiatives that will increase the use of China’s Beidou navigation satellite system (BDS) in the Arab world with the aim of elevating cooperation in high-technology between China and the Middle East and North Africa.

The forum concluded that increased BDS use in the Arab world, as well as technological cooperation with China, could be achieved by establishing a ‘Space Silk Road’ between China and the Arab world. By formally establishing a Silk Road conceptual theme, forum participants believe that Arab countries will step up their use of BDS for everything ranging from precision agriculture and maritime domain awareness through to disaster management and telecommunications.

“The BDS cooperation is the best example for the strategic cooperation between China and Arab states, as satellite navigation integrates many hi-tech areas, including telecommunication and space technologies…This is an important opportunity for Tunisia, while the BDS cooperation also means the further upgrade of the China-Arab relations,” said Slim Khalbous, Tunisia’s minister for higher education and scientific research in an address to the forum.

“Satellite navigation has provided many conveniences and benefits for us, and we are determined to push forward with our cooperation,” said Mohamed Ben Amor, secretary-general of the Arab Information and Communication Technologies Organization (AICTO), in the forum’s opening speech.

Amor added that the establishment of the China-Arab States BDS/GNNS Centre in Tunis in 2018 is an important step in increasing Sino-Arab cooperation in satellite positioning, navigation, and timing (PNT) applications through BDS.

Kamal Hassen Ali, assistant secretary general of the Arab League in charge of economic affairs, celebrated the burgeoning cooperation between China and Arab states, saying that, “The size of our cooperation will grow bigger, as the China-Tunisia cooperation has borne many fruits, and it will achieve greater progress in other countries in the region too.”

Wang Zhaoyao, chairman of Chinese Satellite Navigation Committee, called for the creation of a ‘Space Silk Road’ that connects China with Arab states by encouraging greater utilization of BDS for social and economic development in the region.

This sentiment was echoed by Li Chengwen, the Chinese ambassador for China-Arab States Cooperation Forum Affairs, who said that BDS is the foundation for such a ‘Space Silk Road’ that could increase high-technology cooperation between China and Arab states.

The China-Arab States BDS Cooperation Forum is a multilateral initiative for promoting cooperation and exchanges between China and Arab states in the field of satellite navigation within the framework of the China-Arab States Cooperation Forum. The first forum was held in Shanghai, China, in May 2017.

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