• Professor Xu Xing of the Chinese Academy of Sciences

Professor Xu Xing of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (Photo : Reuters)

After China hosted its first biannual quantum conference last year, the International Conference on Quantum Communication, Measurement and Computing, considered the world's most influential gathering of the quantum sector, a quantum communication line linking Beijing and Shanghai is scheduled for completion in the near future.

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The announcement occurs after a pilot 60-million-yuan ($9.9 million) quantum communication network was established in Hefei, Anhui Province, in Feb. 2012.

Quantum communication is the science of transmitting quantum states from one location to another and is described as a way of creating "unbreakable" messages. Accordingly, the Hefei system, which is now permanent, facilitates secure audio and visual communication for bodies such as government agencies, financial institutions, medical facilities, weapon manufacturers and research institutes.

The technology was placed in the global spotlight recently after quantum cryptography was discovered, and it became a prominent topic in China after Pan Jianwei, a professor at the University of Science and Technology of China, won the International Quantum Communication Award in 2012.

However, Pan's involvement with quantum technology pre-dates the award, as he oversaw the construction of the quantum communication hotlines that were used for China's military parade on Oct. 1, 2009, during the 60th-anniversary celebration, after he returned from Austria in 2001. A second quantum network was then established in March 2014 in Jinan, Shandong Province.

Pan announced at the 2014 international conference that China will achieve Asia-Europe intercontinental quantum key distribution (the keys are used to decode encrypted information) in 2020, followed by the construction of a global quantum communication network in 2030.

He also reported that in 2011, China initiated a program to launch a satellite next year that will be used for quantum information and technology experiments.