The shadow of geopolitical competition with China looms large over the recent cooperation agreement on Quantum Science and Technology between Australia and the US.
The joint statement identifies Quantum technologies as a “critical emerging technology” while reiterating commitment to “democratic institutions” and “to an open, inclusive and resilient Indo-Pacific region.” The statement also says that the two sides resolve to protect sensitive technologies with implications for national security, a reference to the alleged theft of IP and tech espionage by China.
The Australia-US deal is an effort to compete with China’s rapid progress in quantum technologies. In the last few years, China has made tremendous progress in this field. Chinese researchers led by Pan Jinwei, the father of quantum science in China, have made several breakthroughs in quantum science. China has also moved on to applying research to practical applications. The most notable application is the world’s first quantum satellite launched by China in 2016. Furthermore, the Chinese tech industry has started pouring money into the commercialization of quantum tech applications. The applications include quantum computing, quantum chips, communications, measurement, control, etc. Hence, US researchers and policymakers feel China can beat the US in the race to become the leader in this space.
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