Wednesday, 20/9/2017 | 5:35 UTC+8

China’s Jack Ma spreads his wings

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The Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. in partnership with the State run North Industries Group Corp or Norinco, a military industry heavyweight, has formed a joint venture company, with a tie up with Beidou Navigation Satellite system.

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Jack Ma’s Ali Baba group, an e-commerce giant, is expanding its hi-tech footprint to cover satellite navigation and quantum computing.

The Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. in partnership with the State run North Industries Group Corp or Norinco, a military industry heavyweight, has formed a joint venture company, with a tie up with Beidou Navigation Satellite system. The $310 million venture, based in Shanghai aims to provide subscribers with location and navigation information, based on the Beidou system. Over time it is expected to give the U.S.-owned Global Positioning System (GPS) satellite navigation system a run for its money in the Chinese domestic market and the neighbourhood.

Analysts say that the Chinese want to expand their wings in providing location and navigation data to the countries in the region, including Central Asia and West Asia, as they become part of President Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road, Eurasia integration project.

Alibaba will leverage its strengths in cloud computing and big data in the joint venture, while the rapidly evolving Norinco, though known as a a major supplier of tanks, anti-aircraft missiles and high-explosive bombs to the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), will pool in its expertise as a major developer of Beidou’s ground-based augmentation system.

The Beidou system, which began offering its services n 2012 is, however, still used for military and industry applications. Civilian use mainly through smart phones could become widespread once navigation chips become cheaper, making them affordable for the highly cost conscious mobile handset makers.

The Beidou network, based on 35 satellites is expected to be completed in 2020.

Nevertheless, the tie up, in the long run, appears lucrative, for Chinese authorities last October announced that the Beidou system should capture 60 per cent of the domestic market by 2020. It is estimated that the navigation related industry, which is a component of the China’s ‘new normal’ transition from current low end manufacturing to hi-tech production and services in the future, has a market potential of around $63 billion.

The Alibaba Holding Company has also tied up a partnership between Aliyun, the group’s cloud-computing with the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS). As a result a decision was taken in July to set up the Alibaba Quantum Computing Laboratory in Shanghai, which will research on quantum computing, a revolutionary concept in superfast computing. The aims of the Shanghai laboratory is to help build a quantum computer, which has data processing speeds trillions of times faster than the world’s fastest computer. The website Caixin Online is reporting that quantum computer technology has been a hot topic of research worldwide. Since 2013, the U.S. government’s space agency, NASA, in partnership with Google and the Universities Space Research Association have been engaged in research at the Quantum Artificial Intelligence Lab in Silicon Valley.

Source: The Hindu

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