China is catching quantum fever, according to news outlets covering Asia.
The Asian Financial Times is reporting that anticipation is growing for the nation’s ruling communist party to announce that quantum science will be an integral part of the nation’s five-year plan. The newspaper said that China’s five-year plan is a policy blueprint that sets medium-term goals for the country’s economic and social development. Developing self-reliant technologies is expected to be a top priority in the 14th Five-Year Plan.
There are strong indications that the plan will highlight quantum science and that may offer a nod that China is seeking first-mover advantage in quantum.
Last week, President Xi Jinping told a group session of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China’s Central Committee that China will advance the development of quantum science and technology with more strategic planning, supportive policies and investment. Developing quantum science and technology, Xi said, was of “great scientific and strategic significance.”
A few days later at a press briefing by the State Council, Qin Yong, director of the Department of High and New Technology at the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST), said that quantum technology will be one of the new high-tech focus areas in China’s 14th Five-Year Plan for 2021-2025.
According to the newspaper, China already has thousands of businesses in the quantum field, and these remarks have caused prices for stocks linked to the industry to soar.
According to Asian Financial Times, Xi’s speech hit the stock market, causing stock prices of quantum technology companies such as Advanced Fiber Resources, Bluedon Information Security Technology, GuoChuang Software, and QuantumCTek soared. Advanced Fiber Resources recorded the largest price surge, of 20% on Oct. 19.
The buzz also had boosted the convertible bonds market. Debt-laden information-security solution provider Bluedon’s convertible bonds had a price surge of 64% recently, and the surge continued in subsequent days even when the company clarified that it has no quantum operations or any income in the field.
Chinese business credit reporting platform Tianyancha reports that a large number of companies in the quantum technology field have emerged over the last five years. The word “quantum” is mentioned in the business scope of 4,200 enterprises, and 87% of them were founded within the last five years. Guangdong province hosts about a third of these companies, according to AFT.
China’s next five year plan would have a precedent in quantum technology. In the 13th Five Year Plan, China set up a quantum-encrypted integrated satellite-terrestrial communication network prototype through experiments with Satellite Micius and the Beijing-Shanghai Trunk Line.
Micius, which was launched in 2016, is claimed to be the world’s first quantum communications satellite. In 2017, the 2,000-kilometer Beijing-Shanghai Trunk Line (also known as the Jinghu Railway) went into operation in 2017, which the Chinese claim to be the world’s first secure quantum communication trunk line. It links Beijing, Jinan, Hefei, and Shanghai, and is connected with Micius through a station in Beijing, according to AFT. Some banks in China are able to send “ultra-secured” transactions along the Beijing-Shanghai Trunk Line.
Scientists and military experts believe that ultra-secure communications would be an advantage for the Chinese politically, economically and militarily.