China goes for GALILEO

The European Union and China have reached an agreement that will allow China to participate in the European GALILEO satellite radionavigation programme.

Mr. Shi Dinghuan, General Secretary of China’s Ministry of Science and Technology and Mr. François Lamoureux, Director General for Transport and Energy at the European Commission signed the agreement in Beijing, China on September 18.

The draft agreement itself will be submitted to the next EU Transport Council meeting on October 9 for formal approval by the EU Member States, and must also be approved by China’s State Council. Subsequently, it will be submitted for signature at the forthcoming EU-China Summit on October 30.

The agreement sets the stage for EU member countries to work with the Chinese on technology and manufacturing issues that relate to the development of the Galileo satellite system. It also opens the door for China to take a substantial financial part in the programme through a stakeholding in the GALILEO Joint Undertaking, the body established to manage the programme.

A ‘China-Europe Global Navigation Satellite System Technical Training and Co-operation Centre’ (CENC) in Beijing’s Zhongguancun Hi-Tech Zone will serve as a focal point for all activities on GALILEO. The training centre is the result of a joint effort by the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology, the Chinese Remote Sensing Centre, the European Commission and the European Space Agency.

At present, the two existing satellite radionavigation systems – the US’ GPS system and Russia’s GLONASS system – are financed and controlled by military authorities, unlike the GALILEO system, which will be administered and controlled by civilians.