A major breakthrough of a Chinese team in quantum physics might lead to destructive innovation in information technology and related industries, dishing out a secure and flawless alternative of communication for human beings.
Prof. Pan Jianwei, a principal investigator at the University of Science and Technology of China (USTC), led his fellow researchers to successfully double the bandwidth for quantum teleportation, which was published late February in the British journal of Nature and commented by a world-leading quantum physicist Wolfgang Tittel as “impressive.”
Based on technologies developed from its basic research findings in the past 15 years, the Pan team is building a 2,000-km quantum communication line connecting Beijing and Shanghai and planning to enable the space-to-Earth encoding information transfer via an experimental quantum communication satellite expected to be launched in 2016.
Pan’s cutting-edge research project, beginning with a 6 million-yuan ($980,000) fund in 2001 from the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), has obtained handsome financing from the CAS, the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Science and Technology and the National Natural Science Foundation of China.
China last year spent 1.33 trillion yuan on research and development (R&D), increasing 12.4 percent year-on-year and accounting for 2.09 percent of GDP, with a further ambitious anticipation of exceeding the average 3-percent threshold of the R&D to GDP ratio of industrialized economies.
China in 2014 accepted 2.36 million patent applications and granted 1.3 million patents.
“Innovation is the most important driving force for development,” said President Xi Jinping, who asks his nation to break through the system and mechanism barriers to innovation.
“Quantum information technology provides a great opportunity for China to strive to be a pacemaker in future information technology from a follower in the past,” said Prof. Pan, a CAS member who is in Beijing attending the annual session of the 12th National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC).
The USTC, with Prof. Pan as a vice-president, incorporated in 2009 a high-tech company not far from its campus in Hefei, Anhui province, manufacturing quantum communication equipment, providing business solutions and possessing the most such patents in China.
Premier Li Keqiang said China will promote the extensive application of information technology in industrialization, launch major projects to develop high-end equipment and information networks, and help some emerging industries become leading ones.
The 40 billion-yuan government fund has already been in place for investment in emerging industries, and more funds will be raised for promoting business development and innovation.
While supporting big national companies to continuously sharpen their competitiveness by making innovations, such as the China-made global positioning system Beidou, the third-generation nuclear power plant and the high-speed railway system, the government spurs popular entrepreneurship and mass innovation.
To show his own commitment to this end, Premier Li visited an eastern village full of hard-working individuals getting profits from their small businesses for online shopping, and clicked, though ceremonially, the first go-ahead of a small loan to a truck driver for a newly-approved Internet banking services provider WeBank.
Beijing’s Zhongguancun Science Park harbors numerous high-tech companies and innovative startups. The Binhai New Area in Tianjin and the Zhangjiang Hi-tech Zone in Shanghai follow suit, greatly boosting the innovation-driven economy.
However, China still needs to do a lot more to improve the environment for innovation.
Restrictions on innovation should be substantively lifted, such as deregulation for fairer competition and easier access to flexible financing, said CPPCC member Yang Yuanqing, chairman and CEO of Lenovo, the world’s largest personal computer maker growing from a shabby storeroom in Zhongguancun.
Some 60 percent of 2,446 entrepreneurs surveyed in a recent poll said the lack of talents is the biggest obstacle to innovation.
Quite a few CPPCC members and deputies to the National People’s Congress, China’s legislature, advocate systematic changes in education, regulation, research and development management and incentives scheming, with proposals including one on stimulating more college graduates to start up their own businesses and help them, as many as possible, succeed.