The US has placed a ban on companies assisting the Chinese military’s quantum computing activities.

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Han Xu/Xinhua via Getty Images

Officials are concerned that China would triumph in the encryption wars.

The United States is taking extra precautions to prevent China’s military from claiming superiority in quantum computing. To prevent them from aiding the Chinese military’s quantum computing activities, the Commerce Department has added eight technology producers to its Entity List. Officials are concerned that the entities could feed “emerging” US technology that could help crack encryption, build “unbreakable” encryption, and develop anti-stealth or anti-submarine devices.

The list focuses on a mix of companies and researchers, including QuantumCTek and the Hefei National Laboratory for Physical Sciences at Microscale. The US also added three affiliates of Corad Technology Limited, a Chinese firm on the list since 2019, although it wasn’t clear that quantum computing was involved — it was also accused of backing Iran’s military and space programs as well as North Korea “front companies.”

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The updated Entity List featured 27 organisations and individuals, including 13 in Pakistan who are suspected of supporting the country’s “unsafeguarded” nuclear and ballistic missile programmes.

When China may need to investigate and develop much of the technology in-house, this is unlikely to put a stop to its military’s use of quantum computing. The extended blocklist, on the other hand, may slow things down by restricting China’s access to American processors and other development-enhancing equipment. Consider this a stumbling barrier that increases the US’s chances of gaining or keeping the advantage.

 

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