China is building a massive multi-location national-level quantum laboratory

During the 8th International Conference on Quantum Cryptography which took place in Shanghai last week, China announced to be in the progress of building a new multi-location quantum information lab, local media Yicai (in Chinese) reports.

According to the announcement, the new lab will integrate resources in different regions including Hefei in Anhui province, Shanghai, and Beijing. The lab’s branch in Hefei called the National Laboratory for Quantum Information Sciences started construction in 2017 and will cover a land area of 86 acres (362,667 square meters) by completion. It aims to accelerate quantum R&D and application with the help of University of Science and Technology of China also located in the area.

An insider from the university told Yicai that the program has received a funding of around RMB 1 billion from Anhui’s provincial government and Shanghai’s municipal government. The insider added that the state will invest over RMB 100 billion as a long-term supporter.

The Hefei lab received $10 billion from the local government in 2017, according to reports. The new RMB 1 billion is likely to be a bonus financing to upgrade existing infrastructure and enhance the connection between different branches.

In September 2017, China launched a quantum fiber link connecting four major cities: Beijing, Shanghai, Jinan, and Hefei. The link is also using China’s Micius, the world’s first quantum communication satellite. Partners of the link project include the State Grid Corporation of China, the country’s state-owned electricity utility company.

Additionally, Alibaba jointly established a Shanghai-based quantum computation lab with the Chinese Academy of Sciences. The company also participated in the International Conference on Quantum Cryptography this year.

Increasing quantum investment in Beijing, Shanghai, and Hefei area appears as a strengthening of resources and an aggressive move to accelerate the field’s development in order to stay ahead of a global game which is now led by China and the US.

On June 27 this year, the US passed the National Quantum Initiative Act (H. R. 6227), promising a 10-year federal effort to boost quantum science as well as a $1.3 billion budget to support the country’s quantum computation projects between 2019 and 2023. Prior to the Act, government investment in quantum research was around $200 million per year, according to the latest 2016 data—far behind China’s state-backed financing.