China announced Friday that it was nearing completion of its new global positioning system (GPS) network as it prepares to dominate the world's next generation of telecommunications services and further decouple from the US' GPS network, reported Nikkei Asian Review.
China's Beidou network of satellites is expected to be completed at the end of 1H20 when the last two of 35-satellites will be launched.
The Beidou GPS network will be 17% larger than the current 30 satellites operated by the US-owned GPS.
The strategic purpose of China's new GPS is to decouple from the West's GPS and provide service to Southeast Asia, South Asia, Africa, and Eastern Europe.
China's rapid advances in fifth-generation wireless communications (5G) and satellite technology present a significant challenge to the US hegemony over the global telecommunications infrastructure.
News of GPS decoupling between China and the US comes as tensions ease over trade. Still, it seems the world's two largest economies have entered a new period of sustained competition that will result in further decoupling.
China's Beidou network of satellites will be able to support 70% of all Chinese smartphones.
Ran Chengqi, a spokesperson for the Beidou Navigation Satellite System, said the Beidou network plays a vital role in 5G, an area where Huawei Technologies is the world's leader in development.
"The integration of Beidou and 5G is an important sign on the path toward China's development of information technology," Chengqi said.
Beidou's network coverage is expected to span across countries where the Chinese have developed Belt and Road infrastructure initiative projects.
Beidou "has entered into a new era of global service," he said, "benefiting ASEAN, South Asia, Eastern Europe, West Asia, and Africa in precision farming, digital construction, and smart port construction."
Beidou and 5G will help China usher in self-driving vehicle development, a sector funded and supported by Beijing.
The Beidou GPS network will be essential for achieving Beijing's "Made in China 2025" plan to transition the country from the world's factory to produce higher-value products and services.
It will also allow China to expand its global influence without relying on another country to provide satellite service. This will be crucial in times of conflict, where the US will no longer be able to shutdown down GPS to China.
The rush to decouple is occurring as a great power competition between both countries has sparked Cold War 2.0.