Proposed plan for Filipino household helpers to work in China could boost ties, say experts

Filipino workers sit outside in Central, Hong Kong in June. Photo: CFP

Officials have yet to verify widespread media reports of a plan that would allow Filipino maids and other domestic workers to be employed legally in Chinese cities such as Beijing and Shanghai for higher salaries.

But Chinese experts welcome such a move, claiming it would help curb the existing and often chaotic illegal labor market for Filipino household service workers (HSWs) in China while deepening bilateral ties between Beijing and Manila.

Five cities would pilot the proposed plan, including Beijing, Shanghai and Xiamen, to hire Filipino HSWs, Dominador Say, deputy head of the Philippines’ Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) told The Philippine Star on July 30.

Monthly salaries would be around 13,000 yuan ($1,932), Say told the Star, adding a Chinese delegation would go to the Philippines to continue talks on the plan in September.

However, Li Lingxiao, a spokesman for the Chinese Embassy in the Philippines, told the Global Times on July 31 it was not aware of the plan.

Say later insisted to the South China Morning Post that China is mulling the employment scheme, but called the 13,000 yuan figure incorrect.

Such a proposal should come as no surprise, said Zhu Lijia, a professor of public management at the Chinese Academy of Governance, because it is meeting market demand.

“Filipino HSWs would fill a gap in China’s domestic services market, where domestic workers are in short supply,” Zhu told the Global Times on Thursday.

While market forces will most likely keep salaries to around the domestic monthly average (between 6,000 and 8,000 yuan), the plan will help shore up bilateral ties between Beijing and Manila following the South China Sea dispute in the past, Zhu added.

Perks to work

Filipino HSWs, known as feiyong in Chinese, have long been sought out in Hong Kong for their work ethic and professionalism.

However, the majority are working illegally.

According to the Yangtze Evening Post on August 2, almost all HSWs initially enter China on a tourist visa, then overstay and work without the legal permits.

“Most would love to come to work in the Chinese mainland, because they think China’s economy is growing fast,” a Philippine national identifying only as “Diwan” told the paper.

Diwan had worked as a HSW in Hong Kong for 11 years before moving to Beijing in 2008 and opening a household services training center.

“Some would try their luck in China even without getting a job first, because they think they can make a fortune here,” she added.

Monthly salaries start between 6,000 and 8,000 yuan for inexperienced workers and can reach as high as 15,000 yuan, Diwan said.

Dirty deals

As HSWs increasingly become an affordable option for Chinese families, high demand has resulted in a black market plagued with intermediaries and agents.

“Favorite Employment Co,” a WeChat account that claims to be a Beijing-based agency, targets Chinese companies seeking to hire Filipino HSWs.

The agency updates the account almost every month with profiles of workers waiting in the Philippines for hire. According to their latest update, five workers, aged from 23 to 43, are now available.

Profile photos and video resumes include education backgrounds and employment history.

Most have college degrees and overseas work experience in cities and regions such as Singapore, Dubai and Hong Kong.

“You should first ask your company to provide a work permit before you make any reservation,” a company employee told the Global Times reporter posing as a prospective employer on Thursday.

The minimum is a two-year contract with a 7,800-yuan fee upon signing, the employee said.

Li Sheng, another agent, told the Global Times he charges a 25,000 yuan commission for any hires to cover tourist visa fees, while the HSW stands to make 7,500 yuan a month.

According to Professor Zhu, legalizing the industry would do much to eliminate risk.

“Before HSW employment is legalized, the market will be chaotic with no standard rates, while the interests of both Philippine workers and their Chinese employers will remain unprotected,” Zhu said.

“Chinese authorities would provide oversight of the market to vet out shady or fraudulent agents,” Zhu added.

Source: Global Times

Financial risk can’t be ignored amid restructuring

Illustration: Luo Xuan/GT

Since mid-2016, the importance of risk prevention has gained frequent mention at meetings at various levels in China. The recently concluded National Financial Work Conference, held only once every five years, clearly stated that the nation needs to guard against financial risks.

It’s envisioned that risk prevention will remain a key issue in China in the years to come and there won’t be a regulatory shift until there are signs that the financial risks confronting the country have been fundamentally neutralized. Among the most-watched risks are housing bubbles, the local government debt problem, high financial leverage and woes concerning Internet finance.

First, the risk of a property bubble is the biggest “gray rhino” facing China. Home prices have soared in recent years and people have used leverage to buy homes, even as mortgage rates went up, causing huge bubbles in the housing market. Statistics show that household debt as a percentage of GDP hit 45 percent at the end of 2016, 1.6 times the level five years earlier and three times the level 10 years earlier. The rapid rise of the ratio can be explained simply by the fact that growth in disposable income didn’t keep up with higher home prices.

Fortunately the government has stepped up property curbs since last October and moved toward a fundamental mechanism of long-term regulation of the housing market that both suits the country and complies with market rules.

Second, the local government debt risk is seen as a sword of Damocles hanging over the head of the Chinese economy. In recent years, frequent violations of the borrowing and collateral rules by local governments have been uncovered and the scale of local government debt has surged. There is also a vast amount of hidden debt accumulated by local government financing vehicles, unregulated public-private projects and government investment funds.

Local government debt, as such, represents a huge threat to fiscal stability. The twice-a-decade financial meeting clearly said that the country will curb additions to government debt and hold officials responsible for life if they fail to do so. It was by far the harshest regulatory statement on the local government debt issue, and it also showed how serious the problem has become.

Third, financial leverage has increased. Since the 2008 global financial crisis, China’s overall debt-to-GDP ratio – as well as the debt held by households, non-financial companies, financial institutions and government departments as a portion of GDP – has been on an upward trajectory. In comparison, the US, Europe, Japan and other developed economies have largely undergone deleveraging.

It’s especially noteworthy that there have been several rounds of drastic swings in China’s capital markets since the second half of 2015. In all these cases, the “culprit” is believed to have been the use of leverage such as margin lending and a form of equity leverage financing known as umbrella trusts.

Further, small and medium-sized Chinese banks have in recent years expanded their assets at an annualized rate exceeding 30 percent. In addition, the tendency of many in the asset management sector to keep capital in the financial system and out of the real economy is being facilitated by the use of leverage.

It’s thus understandable that after the annual two sessions earlier this year, many government bodies including the central bank, the regulatory agencies that oversee the banking, securities and insurance sectors, the Ministry of Finance, the National Development and Reform Commission and the Ministry of Commerce have all moved to toughen oversight, primarily over financial leverage.

Fourth, Internet finance is a double-edged sword when it comes to risk. It boosts competition in the financial markets, increases the efficiency of capital allocation, reduces the cost of financial services and explores the boundaries of financial services. The Internet finance sector has gained tremendous popularity in China since 2013.

However, there is still a large void in the country’s legal, regulatory and policy framework that has yet to put Internet finance under effective scrutiny. The sector remains in a stage of untamed growth, with varied problems such as illegal online fundraising, technological failures, information leaks, online fraud and peer-to-peer lending firms whose bosses abscond with investors’ money.

Given that Internet finance has grown to be a new source of risk facing China, it is expected that the industry will experience some hard times in years to come.

A vibrant financial sector can invigorate the economy and a stable one can steady it. China is undergoing a critical economic restructuring and the importance of preventing financial risks and ensuring financial stability can’t be overemphasized. Regulators and policymakers must seek a balance between financial regulation and development and also between financial reform and innovation. Risk prevention and regulatory tightening are more than just words on paper; they call for craftsmanship, professionalism and the art of wisdom.

The author is a research fellow at the International Monetary Institute (IMI) of Renmin University of China.

Source: Global Times

China urges nations not to neglect six-party talks as UN Security

US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley speaks after voting on a US-drafted resolution imposing tougher sanctions on North Korea, at UN Headquarters in New York, on Saturday. The resolution imposes a ban on exports aimed at depriving Pyongyang of $1 billion in annual revenue. Photo: AFP

China stressed Sunday that sanctions on North Korea and the resumption of six-party talks are both important and should not be neglected, following the unanimous approval by the UN Security Council on Saturday of a sanctions resolution on the North Korea on its most recent missile tests.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Sunday called on North Korea, the US and South Korea to exercise restraint and make the right choices, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

They should be accountable to their people and regional peace in making such choices, Wang noted. He made the remarks during his meeting with his North Korean counterpart Ri Yong-ho on the sidelines of foreign ministers’ meetings in the Philippines.

Wang also told Ri that North Korea should stay calm on the UN new resolution, and avoid conducting further nuclear or missile tests.

The UN Security Council on Saturday, unanimously approved Resolution 2371 which imposed new sanctions on North Korea for ignoring previous resolutions and its recent intercontinental ballistic missile tests, Xinhua reported.

The resolution would ban North Korean exports of coal, iron, iron ore, lead, lead ore and seafood. It would also prohibit countries from increasing the current numbers of North Korean laborers working abroad, ban new joint ventures with North Korea and any new investment in current joint ventures, Reuters reported.

“It usually takes more time for the UN Security Council to adopt a resolution, but this time the UN Security Council reached the agreement in just a week. And the sanctions are much stricter, which proves that the international community shares a higher consensus than before in opposing nuclear proliferation in the peninsula,” said Wang Junsheng, a research fellow on East Asian Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

Both sanctions against North Korean nuclear and missile programs and resumption of six-party talks are important, and neither should be neglected, Wang said on Sunday.

He added there are two major components in the resolution – one, to respond to North Korea’s constant missile tests, which have violated UN Security Council resolutions, to effectively check North Korea’s nuclear and missile development programs, and two, to restart six-party talks.

The most difficult part in restarting six-party talks is building a supervisory mechanism under the UN Security Council, Lü Chao, a Korea expert at the Liaoning Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Sunday.

While the six-party talks failed to achieve a peaceful solution, both North Korea and the US have violated the agreement, Lü said.

The six-party talks, which involve North Korea, South Korea, the US, China, Russia and Japan, started in Beijing in August 2003, but have stalled since December 2008.

North Korea dropped out of the talks in April 2009.

Source: Global Times

China, ASEAN approve sea code

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi is surrounded by journalists at the 50th ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting and its dialogue partners, in Manila, Philippines on Sunday. Photo: AP

The approval of the framework of the Code of Conduct (COC) in the South China Sea marks an important achievement for China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in jointly managing their differences and easing tensions in the disputed waters, Chinese experts said.

Foreign ministers from ASEAN and China approved the framework, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Sunday.

The framework, which was negotiated by China and ASEAN, will help both sides move forward in negotiating an effective code of conduct, the Xinhua News Agency reported Saturday, quoting Robespierre Bolivar, Philippine foreign affairs department spokesman.

Bolivar had earlier said the framework is one of the major outcome documents of the week-long ASEAN ministerial meetings that began on Saturday.

Compared to the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) signed in 2002, the framework’s approval is a substantial step toward making the declaration binding, Zhu Feng, an international relations professor at Nanjing University, told the Global Times, adding that this is an important achievement of China and ASEAN in the last 15 years.

The framework was agreed upon in May during a senior officials’ meeting on the implementation of the DOC in Guiyang, Southwest China’s Guizhou Province. Under the agreement, all parties are obliged to reach a final COC to build a South China Sea of peace, friendship and cooperation.

Code’s significance

However, some overseas media have raised questions about the COC’s practical significance, quoting experts as saying that the non-legally binding document would be a political agreement much like the DOC, and is not a breakthrough between China and ASEAN on South China Sea disputes.

“The COC was a pivotal milestone for further talks on South China Sea disputes. In the future, how to turn it into a binding international law will be discussed,” Zhu said.

What’s more important is that the COC highlights the significance and feasibility of China’s “dual-track approach,” which means that South China Sea disputes should be addressed through negotiations and consultations among the countries directly concerned, and China and ASEAN countries should work together to safeguard peace and stability in the South China Sea, Zhu added.

Echoing Zhu, Zhang Yuquan, an expert on South China Sea studies at the School of International Relations of Sun Yat-sen University, said ties between China and the Philippines have improved in recent years, which have laid the foundation for the COC’s approval. “This is a huge step forward and its practical significance will surface in the near future.”

However, Southeast Asian foreign ministers failed to issue a communiqué at the end of Saturday’s meeting. Bolivar gave no reason for the delay and said the statement would instead be released at the end of a series of regional events hosted by Manila in the next few days, Reuters reported.

Zhang said that South China Sea disputes are very complicated, and involve several interest groups. Therefore, it is difficult to arrive at a consensus on how to refer to the disputes. But Zhang added he remains optimistic about the upcoming communiqué as Southeast Asian countries have realized that resorting to outside forces does no good to regional peace and development.

Since 2016, the related parties have agreed to set up a senior diplomat hotline to cope with maritime emergencies and apply the Code for Unplanned Encounters at Sea in the South China Sea, which would help cement trust and avoid unexpected issues.

Meantime, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is traveling to the Philippines, Thailand and Malaysia from Sunday to Thursday, Reuters reported. Tillerson will participate in meetings in Manila and discuss the “denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, maritime security, and counterterrorism.”

“It is a good reminder to the US that its interests cannot replace other countries’ interests nor can it manipulate others. The approval will remind the US that it should view South China Sea issues from a practical perspective,” Zhu said.

Source: Global Times

Inner Mongolia thrives under Xi’s leadership

Photo taken on Aug. 1, 2017 shows the Inner Mongolia Museum in Hohhot, capital of north China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. This group of photos taken by drones shows landmarks of the city, reflecting the development of the city in recent years. This year marks the 70th anniversary of the founding of the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. In local language, Hohhot means the “Blue City”. It is the political, economic and cultural center of the region. (Xinhua/Lian Zhen)

As the grassland is in its most beautiful season, China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region is set to embrace its 70th founding anniversary.

Since the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) in 2012, the CPC Central Committee, with Comrade Xi Jinping at its core, has always been concerned about life on the grand grassland.

Over the past five years, with a clear guideline on the development of the northern border region and driving force of President Xi, also general secretary of the CPC Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, the Party has united the people of Inner Mongolia in keeping their industries on the rise, ensuring a better environment, and leading better lives.

Pointing out the way forward

In Hohhot, the regional capital of Inner Mongolia, the sun burns hot high in the sky. An air of festivity precedes the anniversary with colored flags and banners along the streets.

It has been a history of glory. On May 1, 1947, in the midst of the War of Liberation, the people of Inner Mongolia established the autonomous government of the region, which marked the founding of the country’s first ever ethnic autonomous region at the provincial level under the leadership of the CPC.

In the northern part of China, connecting eight provincial regions, bordering Russia and Mongolia, and home to 55 ethnic groups, the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region occupies a strategically crucial position.

The past 70 years have seen the grassland evolve from a semi-colonial and semi-feudal society to a region of prosperity with modern cities and vigorous pastures.

Ahead of the Chinese Lunar New Year in 2014, braving severe cold, Xi visited Inner Mongolia and inspected posts along the border, attended the traditional Nadam Fair and visited enterprises and communities, greeting local Party members, cadres, children in welfare houses and needy workers.

Based on his examination into the unique economic conditions and history of the region, Xi put forward a set of ideas on the long-term development of Inner Mongolia.

“I hope that cadres and people from all ethnic groups in Inner Mongolia can protect the border of the country and the spiritual home for the ethnic groups in the region,” Xi said, stressing the importance for them to have a broader vision in terms of development.

“I also hope that all of you uphold equality and unity to look after and help each other, join forces to guard the border and lead better lives,” he continued.

President Xi noted that Inner Mongolia should be a shield of ecological security for north China, as well as a shield of safety and stability for the northern border. It should also become the bridgehead for the country to open up northward.

The ecological conditions of the region make a big difference not only to the people here, but to the ecological security of north China and the entire country.

With the advantage in opening up along the border, Inner Mongolia should push forward reforms, boost the border economy, and improve cooperation mechanisms with Russia and Mongolia, Xi added.

Courtesy of the Belt and Road Initiative, goods transported and cross-border visits via the region have increased significantly from the early years of the country’s reform and opening up policy. Manzhouli, a major land port in the north of Inner Mongolia, is now the port with the most routes of the China-Europe railway.

Restructuring economy and better livelihood

The industrial development of Inner Mongolia used to rely too much on resource exploitation. The ratio of industries related to coal in the city of Erdos once almost reached 60 percent.

President Xi stressed economic restructuring during his tour of the region in 2014 and put forward a series of solutions.

According to Xi, the region should combine adjustment of development modes with optimizing the industrial structure.

The adjustment should also be combined with energy saving and emission reduction, as well as the comprehensive deepening of the reform and opening up policy, Xi said.

Sticking to Xi’s instructions, Inner Mongolia has since made significant progress in industrial restructuring. The proportion of coal-related industries dropped to 22 percent in 2016, compared with 34 percent five years ago.

Promoting ecological improvement

With the economic achievements Inner Mongolia has scored over the years, Xi has also kept the ecological improvement in his mind.

During his visit to the region in 2014, Xi pointed out two methods for ecological protection — firstly major ecological restoration projects, such as the sandstorm source control program and return of marginal farmland to forest and grazing land to grassland; and secondly the speeding up of institution building concerning ecological protection.

Since then, Inner Mongolia’s ecological protection has been on a fast track, with more efforts in desert control, grassland protection and water and soil preservation.

To better protect the Hulun Lake area, more funds arrived, more legislation was enacted and limitations on fishing were imposed.

To date, the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region has 182 nature reserves and 43 national forest parks.

Numbers speak for themselves

Inner Mongolia has made great strides since the 18th CPC National Congress, and the numbers speak for themselves.

The industrial structure is no longer over-reliant on coal, and is instead supported by various industries. Tourism saw an annual increase of over 20 percent on average, driving the economy to grow by an average of 7.9 percent each year from 2013 to 2016.

A total of 1.41 million people have been lifted out of poverty over the past five years, and basic medical insurance covers 98 percent of people from both urban and rural areas.

The urbanization rate of Inner Mongolia has surpassed 60 percent, with the total length of highways across the region reaching 190,000 kilometers.

Source: Global Times

Chinese university starts training robot engineers

Undergraduates at Wuhan Business University can now major in robots. Eighty students will be enrolled in the upcoming fall semester and will become the first batch of robot engineers with a bachelor’s degree four years later, Changjiang Daily reported on Aug. 3.

Ten industrial robots displayed at the school’s robot training base will serve as teaching equipment for the robot majors, said Ren Yansheng, director of the Office of Robot Teaching and Research.

The objective is not to teach students how to develop, research, or assemble robots, but to produce engineers who are skilled at robotic application and capable of solving concrete problems, said teacher Han Chang.

According to the education plan, these 80 students will start with liberal education and internships in manufacturing in the first academic year. Later on, they will have access to specialized courses and internships in training bases. After graduation, they will be equipped to work for robot system integrators or intelligent manufacturing enterprises.

The graduates with help relieve the current shortage for such talent.

Public moved by disabled Zhejiang woman who auctions personal paintings for charity

Wang Yuting, a disabled woman in Kaihua County, Quzhou City, Zhejiang province, recently moved a lot of people by donating personal paintings valued at 376,000 RMB ($55,900) for charity, Zjol.com.cn reported on Aug. 3.

Wang was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy at age 13. As a result, she has little muscular control and the range of motion for her arms is limited to about 5 cm. Despite this, she has drawn nearly 200 pictures and has won many prizes for them. In addition, she auctioned some of her works and donated the gains to charity.

 

University graduate takes over 20,000 aerial pictures of China’s landscapes

Fan Haowei, a graduate from Southwest Petroleum University, Chengdu in southwestern China’s Sichuan province, spent a year taking over 20,000 aerial photographs of the country. He then produced a 6-minute video clip, “Image of China,” which has since gone viral, Thecover.cn reported on August 2.

The graduate, using an unmanned aerial vehicle, photography equipment and a laptop all weighing over 20 kilograms, since August 2016 travelled more than 10,000 kilometers to 20 Chinese cities, including Chengdu, Dali, Guangzhou, Chongqing, Wuhan and Changsha.

Lots of beautiful sceneries in China including Erhai Lake, Dali, night view of Hongya Cave in Chongqing, Three Gorges Dam of Yichang and the Giant Buddha of Leshan, can be seen in the video clip, all displaying the breathtaking landscapes of the country.

“Every second of the video clip has my painstaking effort, which will be valuable memory in my life,” said Fan. He plans to produce more videos in two or three years, though he has already started his career.

 

China attracts increasing number of overseas returnees

China’s rapid development in all fields and preferential policies has been attracting an increasing number of overseas returnees in recent years.

The country attracted 54,000 high-level overseas Chinese talents by 2016 since it introduced the Thousand Talents Program in 2008, a talent recruitment program to recruit highly skilled university professors and researchers abroad.

Advanced technology, experience, strong leadership and scientific research abilities are the qualities sought from the overseas professionals to support frontier research and industrial development of the country.

Bao Jie, a doctoral supervisor at the Department of Electronic Engineering, Tsinghua University, returned to China in 2013. He set up the university’s quantum dot spectroscopy integration laboratory after years of study and working in Brown University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and California Institute of Technology in the U.S.

Two years ago, Bao’s team invented a micro quantum dot spectrometer about the size of a mobile phone chip. It is expected to be less expensive, portable as well as available to the public.

“I hope my research goes further in China, and this means much to me,” said Bao, adding that he enjoys the scientific research atmosphere in China as the country has of late increased its research input.

There are currently 347 high-tech business incubators in China attracting 79,000 Chinese returnees to start their businesses in strategic emerging industries.

Meanwhile, the number of Chinese travelling abroad compared to returnees dropped from 3.15:1 to 1.26:1 from 2006 to 2016. Statistics show that many job opportunities with bright prospects for development and attractive salaries are contributors to the talents’ return.

Europe finds cause of Galileo’s faulty clocks

A rocket carrying four Galileo satellites lifts off from Europe’s spaceport in French Guiana in November 2016. Photo: CFP

Investigators have uncovered the problems behind the failure of atomic clocks onboard satellites belonging to the beleaguered Galileo satellite navigation (satnav) system, the European Commission said Monday.

For months, the European Space Agency (ESA), which runs the program, has been investigating the reasons behind failing clocks onboard some of the 18 navigation satellites it has launched for Galileo, Europe’s alternative to the US Global Positioning System (GPS).

Each Galileo satellite has four ultra-accurate atomic timekeepers, two that use rubidium and two hydrogen maser. But a satellite needs just one working clock for the satnav to work – the rest are spares.

Three rubidium and six hydrogen maser clocks were not working, with one satellite sporting two failed timekeepers.

“The main causes of the malfunctions have been identified and measures have been put in place to reduce the possibility of further malfunctions of the satellites already in space,” commission spokeswoman Lucia Caudet said.

ESA found after an investigation that its rubidium clocks had a faulty component that could cause a short circuit, according to European sources.

The investigation also found that operations involving hydrogen maser clocks need to be controlled and closely monitored, the same sources said.

The agency has taken measures to correct both sets of problems, the sources added, with the agency set to replace the faulty component in rubidium clocks on satellites not yet in orbit and improve hydrogen maser clocks as well.

“The supply of the first Galileo services has not and will not be affected by the malfunctioning of the atomic clocks or by other corrective measures,” Caudet said, adding the malfunctions have not affected service performance.

‘Most accurate clocks ever’

The Galileo system went live in December last year, providing initial services with a weak signal, having taken 17 years to develop at more than triple the original budget.

The civilian-controlled service is seen as strategically important for Europe, which relies on two military-run rivals – GPS and Russia’s GLONASS.

ESA boasts that Galileo has the most accurate atomic clocks ever used for geolocalization.

Similar to traditional clocks relying on the tick of a pendulum, atomic timekeepers also count regular oscillations, in this case switches between energy states of atoms stimulated by heat or light.

But Galileo has experienced many setbacks, including the placement of two satellites in the wrong orbit.

In January, ESA director general Jan Woerner announced that the system had suffered a setback with its atomic clocks. The EU Commission expects Galileo to be fully operational by 2020.

ESA signed a contract in late June with a German-British consortium to build eight more satellites for Galileo, which will eventually comprise 30 orbiters. A total of 24 will be operational, in three orbital planes, with the rest standing by as spares, in orbit and on the ground.

Once fully deployed, Galileo aims to pinpoint a location on Earth to within a meter – compared to several meters for GPS and GLONASS.

Clients of a paying service will be able to receive even more accurate readings – down to centimeters. Such accuracy will be very useful in search-and-rescue operations.

All new cars sold in Europe by 2018 will be fitted with Galileo for navigation and emergency calls.

Its high-precision clocks will also boost synchronization of banking and financial transaction, telecom-munications and energy smart-grids, making them more efficient.