Dual-use technologies are driving China’s readiness for modern warfare
(SouthChinaMorningPost) Megha Pardhi and Arjun Gargeyas discuss how emerging technologies are driving China’s readiness for modern warfare. Inside Quantum Technology summarizes here with attention on quantum technology. China’s armed forces have started embracing emerging tech with an eye on closing the gap in military power with the US.
Dual-use technologies such as AI and big data have been incorporated into China’s military strategy and will play an important role in China’s future plans. Shashoujian refers to the Chinese strategic concept focused on creating “assassin’s mace” or “silver bullet” technologies that can reduce the gap between US and Chinese military power. These efforts have manifested themselves in policies, directions and plans.
In this year’s annual session of the National People’s Congress, Premier Li Keqiang presented a finance report with an estimated 1.45 trillion yuan (US$230 billion) set aside for defence spending in 2022. Although that figure is an increase on last year, it is still less than the US military budget, which is expected to top US$770 billion. This translates into a significant gap in US and Chinese military power. As a result, China’s military modernisation and efforts to leverage technology in warfare have so far been directed to reduce this gap.
Two terms – “informationisation” and “intelligentisation” – reflect the significance of technology to the Chinese military.
–“Informatisation” refers to the use of new information and communication technologies. Its application in the military also overlaps with the goals of digitalisation of the military.
–“Intelligentisation” refers to the use of emerging technologies uch as artificial intelligence, quantum and edge computing, augmented or virtual reality and others. To put it simply, intelligentisation can be viewed as the next step after informatisation.
With China making giant strides in the field of quantum technology, concerns over potential military weaponising have emerged. The reported successes of the quantum radar project, as well as the quantum submarine detector project, have significant implications for the current military technology landscape. These applications can provide leverage to the Chinese armed forces in future deployment of intelligentised warfare. The key is that many of these developments are dual-use technologies, for use both in military and civilian fields.
The builsing of impenetrable communications is an example of dual-use. Recently, scholars from the National University of Defence Technology highlighted “strong connections” as a factor required to win intelligent warfare.
In a separate development earlier in 2021, a team of Chinese scientists led by Pan Jianwei demonstrated an integrated quantum communication network. China’s progress in quantum communication has increased the feasibility of creating an “unhackable” communication network. These are all steps towards building an all-encompassing, impenetrable communication network that can be leveraged in case of conflict.
It is clear to the Chinese military apparatus that Beijing will have to rely on emerging technologies to close the gap to US military power. This is evident in the reorganisation of the PLA under President Xi Jinping. At the heart of this effort lies the focus on critical and emerging technologies. As the world moves further into the digital age, the emphasis on dual-use applications of emerging technologies will keep growing. Thus, Beijing sees the need to develop military competency in critical and emerging technologies to gain an advantage over its adversaries.
Megha Pardhi is a research analyst (China Studies) at the Takshashila Institution, a public policy think tank in Bangalore.
Arjun Gargeyas is a research analyst with the High Tech Geopolitics Programme at the Takshashila Institution
Arjun Gargeyas is a research analyst with the High Tech Geopolitics Programme at the Takshashila Institution, a