China has started offering navigation services from its own satellite navigation system.
China's State Council Information Office announced on Tuesday that the constellation of 10 Beidou/Compass satellites had started offering positioning, timing and navigation services across China.
Besides providing China's military with a navigation system independent of the US-controlled global position system (GPS), Beidou will also provide data to private enterprises, China said.
The first Beidou test satellites were launched in 2000. A further six satellites are slated for launch in 2012 to broaden coverage in the Asia-Pacific region. China wants Beidou to transform to a service with global coverage, named Compass, by 2020, aided by a constellation of 35 satellites.
The announcement sits alongside other schemes by China to develop technologies, such as microprocessors and novel supercomputing architectures, that let it wean itself from products made by Western companies.
Besides GPS, Russia operates and is upgrading its own Glonass system and the European Union has Galileo. Europe launched the first two Galileo satellites of a planned 30 in October. The system is slated for full operation by 2019.