May 28, 2024

New CNAS Report Assesses U.S.-China Competition in Quantum Computing 

Report warns that U.S. quantum leadership is at risk without action to secure the nation’s quantum supply chain and workforce pipeline

Washington, May 28, 2024 — Today, the Center for a New American Security (CNAS) released a new report, The Quest for Qubits: Assessing U.S.-China Competition in Quantum Computing, by Sam Howell, adjunct associate fellow for the Technology and National Security program.

The world is on the brink of a quantum revolution. Quantum computing promises to deliver transformative advancements in critical industries like energy, agriculture, medicine, and finance. At the same time, the technology poses significant risks from its potential to break encryption, enable mass surveillance, and expedite the development of new weapons systems. In light of these opportunities and threats, the report emphasizes the urgent need for the United States (U.S.) to develop a long-term strategy to maintain its competitive edge in quantum technology and ensure alignment with U.S. values and interests.

Howell’s new report takes stock of the global race to build and scale quantum computers, with a particular focus on the U.S.-China competition over this critical technology. In the report, Howell provides a detailed overview of quantum computing and its potential, the current state of quantum technology research and development, and barriers to continued progress. Howell also stresses the importance of comprehending U.S. adversaries’s quantum technology ambitions and the consequences of ceding U.S. leadership in this critical field.

The report concludes with several policy recommendations to secure U.S. advantages in quantum computing while mitigating critical vulnerabilities.

Key recommendations from the report include:

  • Conduct a comprehensive review of the quantum technology supply chain to identify key inputs, detect critical nodes and potential vulnerabilities, and assess opportunities to develop additional suppliers across a range of regions;
  • Leverage financial incentives and the Tech Hubs Program to promote domestic production of quantum technology inputs deemed too sensitive to reside outside of the U.S.;
  • Direct and resource the Quantum Economic Development Consortium to continually monitor U.S. and foreign competitor quantum computing supply chains;
  • Congress should establish a national quantum education and workforce development center to harmonize and support existing initiatives to build a more robust pipeline of quantum talent; and
  • The White House should work with allies and partners to create cross-training and reciprocal research exchange programs with quantum centers worldwide.

This report is part of High Stakes: Preparing the Next President, a new election-year initiative to explore the most pressing national security issues that will face the next administration. To learn more about this center-wide initiative, visit cnas.org/highstakes.

For more information or to arrange an interview with Sam Howell, please contact Alexa Whaley at awhaley@cnas.org.

Editor's note: This new report will be discussed live on June 6, 2024, at the CNAS 2024 National Security Conference in a session with report author Sam Howell. To register for the event, click here.

Technology & National Security

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