By Sumit Kumar Singh
New Delhi, Sep 14 (IANS) Nepal’s policymakers are undergoing 13 days’ offline and online training for the BeiDou Navigation Satellite System (BDS) in Beijing after China “especially invited” them to attend it, sources said.
China has reserved several seats for policymakers of the mega Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) project at its Science Academy in Beijing. The programme started on September 4 and will end on September 20, sources said.
“China has invited policymakers of Nepal to attend the training programme so that they can understand how these GPS and its application works in the field of education, research, science and other fields,” they said.
The move of China is seen as a counter to the US-based Global Positioning System (GPS) hegemony and push for its own indigenously developed navigation system in the region. China uses its homegrown navigation system BeiDou for both military and civilian purposes.
BDS, stated to be rivalling GPS, is the fourth global satellite navigation system in the world. Other systems are Russia’s GLONASS and the European Union’s Galileo. India too is developing its own navigational system called the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS), with an operational name of NAVIC.
Sources said that BDS’ implementation will not only reduce the dependence of Chinese aircraft, vehicles and anti-missile systems on GPS and GLONASS, but it will enhance the People’s Liberation Army’s capabilities in conducting overseas operations.
BeiDou started providing independent navigation services over China in 2000 and will serve many countries part of BRI. Currently, BeiDou covers nearly 30 countries including Pakistan, Egypt and Indonesia.
China’s BRI is one of the most ambitious infrastructure projects launched in 2013 by President Xi Jinping. It is aimed at furthering China’s influence abroad with infrastructure projects funded by Chinese investments all over the world.
The initiative also led to allegations of smaller countries reeling under mounting Chinese debt after Sri Lanka handed over its strategic Hambantota port in a debt swap to China in 2017 on a 99-year lease.
According to the Chinese Foreign Ministry, China has inked 198 cooperation documents with 167 countries and international organisations under the BRI.
China sees its trade expansion with the BRI countries as a way out to sustain its exports amid declining trend in the US and European Union, its top export destinations till now.
(Sumit Kumar Singh can be reached at [email protected])