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by Staff Writers
Beijing (XNA) Jan 01, 2013
A high-ranking military official on Friday urged researchers to properly maintain China's home-grown navigation system so it can provide steady and reliable services for the country's economic development and military combat preparations.
Fan Changlong, vice chairman of the Central Military Commission, required researchers to beef up the security measures of the BeiDou Navigation Satellite System (BDS) and increase its capacity to ward off interference.
The BDS began providing services to civilian users in China and surrounding areas in the Asia-Pacific region on Thursday.
The general functionality and performance of the BDS is "comparable" to the GPS system, but cheaper, a spokesman for the system said at a press conference on Thursday.
Fan said the system has broken China's reliance on foreign navigation systems and carries great significance in safeguarding national security and promoting economic development.
The Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, the State Council and the Central Military Commission on Friday jointly issued a letter congratulating relevant parties on the launch of the BDS.
The letter hailed the system's launch as a "milestone" in the cause of the informationization of the country and its military.
The success also marks China's great progress in building its own independent navigation system, it said.
In the letter, authorities paid respect and extended greetings to the scientists, army officers and staff members involved in the research, production, management and maintenance of the system.
The success of the BDS was gained through the country's efforts in independent innovation, cooperation among different units and the spirit to conquer difficulties and pursue excellence, the letter said.
China started its initial research on the system in 1985, and the project is named after the seven-star cluster known in English as the Big Dipper.
It initially encountered some skepticism, as people doubted its necessity, thinking it would be difficult to rival the U.S.-based GPS system.
In 1994, the BDS project was approved as one of the country's strategic targets, and a timetable composed of three stages for the development of the BDS took shape.
China launched the first satellite for the BDS in 2000, and a preliminary version of the system has been used in traffic control, weather forecasting and disaster relief work on a trial basis since 2003.
At present, the system has over 130,000 military and civilian users, including those in the financial, power, fishery and fire-fighting sectors, and it served as an important means of communication during the relief work following the devastating 8.0-magnitude earthquake in May 2008 in Sichuan's Wenchuan County.
Ran Chengqi, a spokesman for the system, on Thursday said the system aims to take 70 to 80 percent of the now GPS-dominated domestic market by 2020.
China National Space Administration
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