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China’s Quantum Future

Xi's Quest to Build a High-Tech Superpower

Xi Jinping at the National People's Congress in Beijing, March 2016. Jason Lee / Reuters

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

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