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China's International Satellite Communications Network: PART I

2009-01-03


The large satellite ground stations originally installed in 1972 to provide live coverage of the visits to China by U.S. president Richard M. Nixon and Japanese prime minister Kakuei Tanaka was upgraded continuously and served as the base for China's international satellite communications network until the mid-1980s. By 1977 China had joined Intelsat and, using ground stations in Beijing and Shanghai the country linked to satellites over the Indian and Pacific oceans.

In April 1984, an experimental communications satellite for trial transmission of broadcasts, telegrams, telephone calls, and facsimile, to remote areas of the country was launched. Following this, China launched in February 1986 its first fully operational telecommunications and broadcast satellite. The quality and communications capacity of the second satellite was praised as much better than the first. In the mid-1987 both satellites were still functioning. Taking advantage of these satellite systems in place, China's domestic satellite communication network went into operation, facilitating television and radio transmissions and providing direct-dial long distance telephone, telegraph, and facsimile service. The network boasts of ground stations in Beijing, Urumqi, Hohhot, Lhasa, and Guangzhou, which were all tapped to an Intelsat satellite over the Indian Ocean.

While the telephone network surged, telegraph development was of second priority mainly due to the difficulties involved in transmitting the written Chinese language. But this technical difficulty of how to put in print the Chinese language correctly, was helped by computer technology. By 1983 China had nearly 10,000 telegraph cables and telex lines transmitting over 170 million messages annually. Most telegrams were transmitted by cables or by shortwave radio.

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PART II: China's International Satellite Communications Network

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