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More versatile than originally thought: A part of the Alphasat I-XL was actually developed to demonstrate data transmission between the Earth observation satellites of the European Copernicus project and Earth, but has now helped a group including researchers from the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Light to test the measurement of quantum states after they have been transmitted over a distance of 38,000 kilometers.What started out as exotic research in physics laboratories could soon change the global communication of sensitive data: quantum cryptography.The physicists are therefore confident that a global interception-proof communications network based on established satellite technology could be set up within only a few years.Sensitive data from banks, state institutions or the health sector, for example, must not fall into unauthorized hands.While international collaborations can be integral to advancing global scientific progress, the sensitivity and strategic objectives associated with these technologies in China could, at worst, undermine such engagements, perhaps resulting in such future “made in China” innovation being restricted to China.China clearly aspires to lead the “second quantum revolution” that is occurring with the advent of these new technologies.
In the process, the exploration of new paradigms for public-private partnership will also be critical.
China’s widespread employment of provably secure quantum cryptography and quantum communications is intended to create new networks that will be, at least in theory, “unhackable.” In the decades to come, the realization of quantum computing will create unparalleled computing capabilities, with impactful applications that include cracking prevalent types of encryption.
Although China is a relative latecomer to the race, this competition will be a marathon, not a sprint, taking place over decades to come, and Chinese scientists – who are receiving nearly unlimited resources and recently have established a new world record for entangled quantum bits (qubits) – could catch up in the long term.
China’s advances in quantum science could impact the future military and strategic balance, perhaps even leapfrogging traditional U. By contrast, the United States has yet to progress toward implementing such solutions, or alternatives from post-quantum cryptography, at scale.
Going forward, if China succeeds in becoming a pioneer in quantum computing, then the leveraging of such immense computing capabilities could convey strategic advantage, placing sensitive information systems at risk.Interest in this technique has grown rapidly over the last two years or so.