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The quantum race is truly underway as regions and nations vie to join the $1 billion club. 2020 will see geopolitical considerations increasingly hard to ignore as major national programmes chart their way forward. 2019 was a year of consolidation for national quantum programmes. Everyone wanted to boast about how much they are spending.

Today the discussion centers on  China’s efforts in quantum computing.

China

China’s rising prominence in quantum technology has been built on a steady increase in support through the 11th, 12th and 13th Five Year plans (2006-20). $987m of central funds have been spent over this period, supplemented by contributions of about $500m from individual provinces [40, 82]. Researchers who previously often completed their training abroad have been encouraged to return home and have turned centres such as USTC in Hefei into world-class hubs of quantum expertise, training a new generation of home-grown talent. China has a world-leading programme for the rollout of QKD. USTC have reported performance results for a 12-qubit superconducting device and reported the fabrication of a 24-quibt device. Alibaba, Baidu, Tencent and Huawei all have quantum investments.

National Laboratory of Quantum Information Science (NLQIS) – Construction is underway on what will be the world’s largest quantum research facility, the NLQIS in Hefei. This HQ location will focus on photonic, NV diamond and silicon spin qubit technology as well as quantum communications and quantum sensing. NLQIS Beijing branch will focus on theory, trapped ion and topological qubits. Shanghai branch will focus on superconducting qubits and ultra-cold atoms, and free-space quantum communication.

China is now preparing a major 10-15 year National Science and Technology Project on Quantum Information that it sees as echoing the EU Flagship and US NQI. Many expect China to invest even more heavily in quantum technology as part of the 14th Five Year plan (2021-26) and beyond. Mooted elements include further funding of the NLQIS (the much reported $10b), QKD network rollout to all provinces, a constellation of quantum satellites, a high precision ground based timing service and competing in the race to build a large scale quantum computer.
Jian-Wei Pan, USTC – China’s ‘Father of Quantum’

Quantum Moonshot – A very striking mission is championed by China’s Jian-Wei Pan (USTC) – to demonstrate quantum entanglement between the Moon and the Earth. Literally a moonshot, combining China’s aspiration in space and quantum technologies. Offering a separation of 1.28 light seconds, this promises to allow test of quantum mechanics to be performed with a human observer in the loop. Such a mission could do for popular interpretations of quantum mechanics, what Galileo did for interpretations of the solar system.

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