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China reportedly producing quantum computers – good luck observing one

More supposition than superposition as local media goes on Sci-Fi journey

Quantum computers have started rolling off the production line in China, according to local media reports.

Global Times offers one of many such accounts and China Television has also covered the news.

None of the reports offer concrete detail. Indeed, many open with a reference to the presence of a quantum computer in the recently released Chinese action blockbuster "Wandering Earth 2" then enthuse about that science fiction vision having become reality.

All report that the computer was produced in the city of Hefei, which is in Anhui province where the local government is known to have funded a quantum computer lab. Some quote an outfit called Origin Quantum as having been informed of the debut by Anhui quantum lab.

Others suggest the computers were quietly slipped into production at Chinese organizations in 2021 and are now available for other buyers.

All offer a joyous patriotic note that the machines' debut puts China in an elite and exclusive club of nations capable of delivering working quantum computers. They enthuse that the Middle Kingdom is standing at the threshold of super-fast problem solving for the benefit of humanity and such like.

While the reports may be fuzzy, China certainly has quantum ambitions: it has demonstrated long-range quantum key distribution using satellites, developed quantum encryption tech and banned its export, and has researchers working on quantum computers.

Those efforts are sufficiently large, and advanced, that the Biden administration last year announced policies aimed at preserving US leadership in the field.

That leadership is currently epitomized by IBM's products, which last week became the subject of a gushing Time Magazine cover story.

In the real world, meanwhile, analysts suggest one of China's main interests in quantum computers is breaking classical encryption.

China has lots of big challenges that quantum computing could help to address. It also has enormous military ambitions, and a lengthy track record of using technology to surveil and oppress its citizens.

You won't read about the latter in Chinese media or social media. But you can read about Chinese netizens' reaction to The New York Times negative review of "Wandering Earth 2". ®

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