China launched global positioning services in the Asia-Pacific from its Beidou satellite network on Thursday, saying it aimed to win up to 20 per cent of global market share by 2015.

The state-run Beidou Navigation Satellite System (BDS) would initially provide positioning, navigation, timing and short-message services in China and the Asia-Pacific region, it said on its official website, www.beidou.gov.cn.

The Beidou, or Compass, system was compatible with other global positioning systems, said Beidou spokesman Ran Chengqi, who also heads the China Satellite Navigation Office.

State media quoted Ran as saying the system could provide positioning accuracy of 10 metres, velocity accuracy of 0.2 metres per second and one-way timing accuracy of 50 nanoseconds.

“We hope industries based on the Beidou Navigation Satellite System will hold 15 to 20 per cent of the market share by 2015,” the official Xinhua news agency quoted him as saying.

The agency quoted unidentified sources as saying China’s market for navigation services was worth some 120 billion yuan (19.2 billion dollars) this year.

The Beidou network is designed to provide both open and authorized global navigation services worldwide by 2020 and will eventually use 35 satellites.

China launched the first satellite for the system in 2000, assembling an initial network of four satellites in trial use for traffic control, weather forecasting and disaster relief since 2003.

It started launching new satellites for the system in 2007, and now has 16 in operation.

The GPS system -- run by the US Defence Department -- is offered free to businesses worldwide while the EU’s Galileo system plans to charge users.