Beijing: China has agreed to launch a telecommunication satellite, dubbed PakSat-1R, for Pakistan in 2011. The announcement has come in the course of Pakistani president Asif Ali Zardari's visit to the country.
The state-run Great Wall Industry Corporation said that a Long March 3B rocket will be used to put the satellite into orbit. The satellite will be launched from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in the south-western Sichuan province.
The corporation said that the satellite will have a life span of 15 years and will be used by Pakistan for domestic telecommunication and broadcast services.
China's offer to Pakistan comes on the back of similar offers to Nigeria last year, and a recent one to Venezuela. It will launch two satellites for Nigeria and one for Venezuela.
Meanwhile, reports emanating from the Chinese capital suggest that the Pakistan president may have failed to obtain a clear commitment from Chinese leaders on his proposal to broaden the nuclear relationship between the two countries.
On what is his first presidential visit to Beijing, Zardari apparently spent some time persuading Chinese leaders to initiate a Sino-Pakistan nuclear deal along the lines of the India-US deal. According to diplomatic sources, Zardari's argument that a Sino-Pakistan deal on nuclear energy would help Beijing counter the effects of the India-US deal received a lukewarm response from the Chinese side, mainly on account of the chronic instability exhibited by Pakistan.
Given the current financial and political crisis faced by Pakistan, Chinese leaders may be understandably reluctant to go ahead with any such sensitive proposal.
It is being given to understand that Beijing has indicated it will seriously consider Zardari's request only after examining the changing situation concerning India-US nuclear relationship and Iran's nuclear ambitions.
Meanwhile, Zardari received a warm welcome from the Chinese communist party leadership., Chinese president Hu Jintao remarked upon the four-decade long friendship with Pakistan by saying, "Your entire family are old friends of the Chinese people. We will never forget the outstanding contribution Benazir Bhutto and Zulfikar Ali Bhutto had made to boosting ties with China."