Quantum leap: China to launch world’s first ‘unhackable’ messaging system
The quantum messaging system, which will be first used by 200 elite members of the government as well as finance and military personnel in the eastern city of Jinan, is expected to be put into commercial use in August.
"We plan to use the network for national defense, finance and other fields, and hope to spread it out as a pilot that if successful, can be used across China and the whole world,” said Zhou Fei, assistant director of Jinan Institute of Quantum Technology, the Financial Times reported.
The system is unique as it sends messages embedded in particles of light. If an outside party attempts to access the system, the quantum nature of the particles will change and immediately destroy the message.
Quantum communication is the most secure because its encryption is based on quantum entanglement, the principle by which two or more subatomic particles simultaneously affect each other no matter the distance between them, said Wang Jianyu, a quantum researcher at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, according to China Daily.
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Speaking to the BBC, professor Anton Zeilinger, a quantum physicist at Vienna University in Austria, said he tried to convince the European Union to invest in quantum-based encrypted communications in 2004. The EU failed to anticipate it would be necessary, however.
"Europe has simply missed the boat," Zeilinger said. "Europe has been dragging its feet and this has hindered us from being able to compete.”
China completed the first stage of its encryption program by launching the world’s first quantum communications satellite in August 2016.
The Quantum Experiments at Space Scale (QUESS) orbiter was tasked with testing out the “uncrackable” system and to explore “quantum teleportation,” the process of sending photons from the satellite to ground stations.
The US has previously expressed fears over China’s technological advancement in space.
In October, Robert Walker and Peter Navarro, advisers to then-presidential candidate Donald Trump, warned that the US was falling behind China because of “significant under-investment.”