BEIJING (AFP): A mysterious Chinese tycoon who plans to dig a $40 billion canal linking the Caribbean and the Pacific is spreading his reach into space with ambitions for a network of satellites, reports said Monday. Wang Jing, who won a 50-year concession to build and operate the canal from Nicaragua last year, announced that one of his companies launched a test orbiter last month. The move made Xinwei Telecom Enterprise Group first private firm to invest in China’s tightly controlled and mostly military-run space industry, the Beijing News said. Wang, in his early 40s, ranked 224th on the Forbes’ world’s billionaires list this year with wealth estimated at $6.1 billion. He has denied any connections with the Chinese government, but reportedly owns a car with military licence plates, broadcasts army songs twice a day in one of his companies, where the lobby is decorated with pictures of Chinese leaders visiting the firm. The satellite, jointly developed with the elite Tsinghua University, was expected to provide a cheaper alternative to foreign satellite communication providers in China’s sea and desert areas, the Beijing News said, citing Tsinghua professor Lu Jianhua. Wang said Xinwei planned to develop four more satellites with the university and build a telecommunication “constellation” over the next 10 years, the report said.