September 27, 2018

China’s Quantum Future

By Elsa B. Kania

China should be a “global leader in innovation” by 2035, President Xi Jinping declared during the Chinese Communist Party’s 19th National Congress last October. His remarks reflected a core strategic ambition: After decades of reliance upon foreign technology, Xi’s China aspires not only to catch up with the West’s technological development but to surpass it—through a national strategy for “innovation-driven” development.

China’s trajectory in quantum science—which leverages principles of quantum mechanics to create disruptive, perhaps transformative technologies—will be a key test of Xi’s ambitions. Beijing is striving to become a world leader in quantum technology through large-scale state-guided investments, which may total tens of billions of dollars in the years to come. Under its 13th five-year plan, introduced in 2016, China has launched a “megaproject” for quantum communications and computing, which aims to achieve major breakthroughs in these technologies by 2030, including the expansion of China’s national quantum communications infrastructure, the development of a general quantum computer prototype, and the construction of a practical quantum simulator. China is also building the National Laboratory for Quantum Information Sciences, which, with over $1 billion in initial funding, could emerge as a key center of gravity for future research and development.

Will China succeed in its plans to pioneer advances in quantum technology? Similar state-guided investment projects have produced mixed results in recent years—China has apparently achieved some successes in the development of hypersonic weapons, yet seen only limited progress in semiconductors. Nonetheless, under Xi, China is clearly willing to place big bets on disruptive technologies. And although such gambles are risky, the potential payoff is enormous: if successful, China’s quest for leadership in quantum science may help to tilt the balance of power between Beijing and Washington.

Read the full article in Foreign Affairs.

  • Video
    • November 8, 2019
    What does the US want from China? What is its endgame?

    Daniel Kliman appears on a BBC News feature to discuss the state of U.S. policy toward China. Listen to the full conversation and more:...

    By Daniel Kliman

  • Congressional Testimony
    • November 5, 2019
    How Corporations and Big Tech Leave Our Data Exposed to Criminals, China, and Other Bad Actors

    I. Key Observations and Assessments1 Chairman Hawley, Ranking Member Whitehouse, distinguished members of the subcommittee, thank you for the opportunity to discuss a topic of...

    By Kara Frederick

  • Commentary
    • The Diplomat
    • November 1, 2019
    How American Progressives Think About Asian Security

    Democrats running for the 2020 U.S. presidential nomination implicitly accept – or at least have not rejected – the premise that the United States’ fate is linked to that of t...

    By Van Jackson

  • Reports
    • October 23, 2019
    Imbalance of Power

    In a new report, experts Daniel Kliman, Iskander Rehman, Kristine Lee, and Joshua Fitt evaluate trend lines in the India-China military equation and assess Delhi’s current mil...

    By Daniel Kliman, Iskander Rehman, Kristine Lee & Joshua Fitt

View All Reports View All Articles & Multimedia