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I would like to personally express my gratitude to the European Quantum Industry Consortium (QuIC) and its leadership team for their excellent collaboration on this important project, which, no doubt, is the most detailed analysis of quantum tech in China to date.

Based on over 20,000 proprietary data points, thousands of articles, a dozen interviews with Chinese academics and stakeholders, and a rigorous approach, we present the current state of this paradigm shifting technology in China to the best of our knowledge.

It is our belief, that the core mission of the Chinese effort is to build a fully entangled quantum network, enabled with QPUs, quantum sensors and QKD - this is more than a semantic subtlety and points towards a highly ambitious and differentiated application of quantum technology, unlike anything else that we see in the Western world. Rather than productizing and commercializing individual hardware stacks, theirs is a networked, distributed approach to bringing all applications of quantum technology to any kind of user on that network.

The breadth and depth of the Chinese program spans R&D, academia, private enterprise, startups, investors, politicians, the media and hundreds of other influencers - a program so wide and deep unlike any other on the planet.

With all this, we were unable to find a “smoking gun” and none of our data, research or interviews leads us to believe that there is an immediate “quantum threat” coming out of China that would jeopardize Western cyber security or commercial success.

Intuition, though, dictates caution.

We do know that China makes a concerted effort to spread misinformation on the goal and progress of their quantum tech program. In a specific conversation, a senior commercial representative of one of the largest Chinese firms confirmed this, laughing in my face “you didn’t really believe that” as we were talking about a specific announcement. We know that China is working on QKD and PQC solutions, on wide spanning Quantum A.I. applications, increased commercial traction, new private and public funding and various international collaborations. We just have too few reliable indicators to formalize this just yet.

Then, there are the “unknown unknowns” and considering the sheer size and complexity of the Chinese effort we expect them. An accelerated path to fault tolerant quantum computing would certainly fall into this category - unfortunately, we do not even have unofficial indicators into this direction.

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From many conversations with my Western counterparts, a main key takeaway is to not judge the Chinese efforts by commercial results. Too often, we tend to count qubits, VC dollars or industrial Euros - this is not a measure of the Chinese progress. We simply cannot view it with Western eyes.

In a world where the US issues a quantum preparedness act, Europe would be well advised to take the quantum race seriously.

Europe has strong individual government-backed programs. The UK has the overall leading quantum tech project with strong efforts across R&D, academia, industry and venture. France and Germany are fast followers but marred by a siloed approach and lack of ambition and centralized strategy. Our overall European strategy, as demonstrated by the lack of critical signers of the recent Quantum Pact, is lacking ambition, coordination and collaboration.

Born in Germany, and growing up in Brussels where my dad worked at the European Commission, I am acutely aware of our history and place in the world. I view quantum technologies as one of the best possible opportunities for a European approach that develops and leads technology for the good of humanity - the Manhattan Project ushered in the end of WWII and a new era of global peace and prosperity; as well as new threats. 

A European Quantum Tech Project might be the best chance we have to define the new era that is coming next, with or without us - and it will only happen at a grand scale. But currently we’re not even in the game.

My hope is that this report may serve as inspiration for just such an effort.

Quantum Tech in China

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