Beijing: China has successfully launched a new meteorological satellite to improve the accuracy of weather forecasting and provide better meteorological services free of cost to countries participating in its ambitious, multi-billion dollar Belt and Road Initiative.
The massive Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) seeks to build rail, maritime and road links from Asia to Europe and Africa in a revival of ancient Silk Road trading routes.
The issues related to the BRI, earlier known as One Belt One Road (OBOR), have been a major bone of contention between India and China as one portion of the corridor passes through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.
The Fengyun-2H satellite was launched on a Long March-3A rocket was launched last night from the Xichang Satellite Launch Centre in China's southwest Sichuan province, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.
Officials said the satellite would provide data free of cost to the countries participating in the BRI in which the USD 50 billion China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is a flagship project.
The Chinese Ministry of Commerce has said recently that China has inked trade deals worth USD 390 billion with the countries participating in its BRI in the first four months of this year.
China says, five years on the BRI -- a pet initiative of Chinese President Xi Jinping -- over 100 countries and international organisations have supported and got involved in this initiative.
Critics say that the BRI, which aims to build trade and infrastructure networks connecting economies around the globe along the ancient Silk Route, is aimed at furthering its influence.
It also attracted criticism that BRI projects entailing huge loans with less transparency are leaving smaller countries with debt problems creating a degree of dependence on China as a creditor.
China has acquired Sri Lanka's Hambantota port on 99 years' lease as a debt swap.
The Fengyun-2H satellite which provides weather data, officials say will cover all the territory of China, as well as countries along the BRI, the Indian Ocean and most African countries, Zhao Jian, deputy director of the Department of System Engineering of China National Space Administration (CNSA) said.
China will offer data of the Fengyun series free to BRI countries and Asia-Pacific Space Cooperation Organisation (APSCO) member countries, Zhao said.
The move shows China's willingness to construct a community with a shared future," Zhao was quoted by the report as saying.