Beidou, or Compass – named after the Chinese term for the plough or Big Dipper constellation—was announced in 2012, joining the US’s GPS, Russia’s GLONASS and European Union’s Galileo.

Beidou is currently centred on the Asia Pacific region but is slated to cover the whole world by 2020.

It is already used by several Asian countries including Laos, Pakistan and Thailand.

The Beidou system is currently used for civilian services such as navigation and messaging, as well as in the transportation and weather forecasting sectors. It also has military applications.

China’s Beidou navigation system ‘completely open’ for Asian neighbours, official says

Government agency hopes more countries will adopt Beijing’s home-grown satellite navigation system, which is set to expand to 30 satellites by 2020

Beidou, which has military and civilian uses, is China’s answer to the United States’ GPS and Russia’s Glonass.

China Launches First of Next-Gen BeiDou Satellites