China to lay out massive quantum network for information security

A quantum communication network will first link the 2,000 kilometres from Beijing to Shanghai by 2016, with the country also vowing to build a global network by 2030.
Written by Cyrus Lee, Contributor

With the maturity of China's quantum information science and technology, an advanced network that is considered unhackable and will provide the most secure encryption technology is ready to commercialise in China, according to Pan Jianwei, a quantum scientist and professor at the University of Science and Technology of China, Xinhua reported on Tuesday.

A quantum communication network between Beijing and Shanghai — the two political and financial centres of the country — is now under construction, and is projected to be put into service by 2016. The 2,000-kilometre network between Beijing and Shanghai is slated to become the world's longest quantum communication network.

China also plans to achieve Asia-Europe intercontinental quantum key distribution by 2020, and is ready to build a global quantum communication network by the 2030, Pan said at the conference.

The technology of transmitting quantum states is generating interest due to work in quantum cryptography, which is believed to be able to create "unbreakable" messages, as any attempt to access the encryption will be detected by the system immediately.

However, the technology has been limited to short distances over the past few decades, as the sensitivity of quantum connections also makes it uneasy to deliver stable information over long distances. Scientists in China are able to make breakthroughs thanks to the financial support from the government.

The science will be of great importance to China's national security and financial information, the Xinhua news agency suggested, adding that Pan's team has already built up the first large-scale metro quantum communication network in the Chinese city Hefei.

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