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Line for quantum communication to be ready next year

By Zhao Lei in Wuhan | China Daily | Updated: 2016-11-24 08:04

Development makes secure network that is theoretically impossible to intercept or crack

China is to start construction on a quantum communication line between Wuhan, capital of Hubei province, and Hefei, the Anhui provincial capital, bringing the nation a step closer to having the world's most secure communication network.

The Wuhan-Hefei quantum communication line will be put into operation around the end of next year and will be connected with the 2,000-kilometer Beijing-Shanghai quantum communication network that is expected to be completed at the end of this year, according to a statement published by China Aerospace Science and Industry Corp at a two-day laser technology forum that closed on Wednesday in Wuhan.

A construction agreement was signed at the forum among several partners involved in the line, including China Aerospace Science and Industry, University of Science and Technology of China and Wuhan city government.

Upon its completion, the Wuhan-Hefei line will stretch more than 300 km. It will initially be used by government bodies and financial institutions in Wuhan before being opened to the business sector and extended to cities along the line, said Wu Xiaofeng, a senior manager at China Aerospace Science and Industry who is overseeing the project.

Wu said the line involves an initial investment of about 200 million yuan ($29 million) and all of its technologies and equipment will be developed by Chinese scientists.

China Aerospace Science and Industry, a major defense contractor, develops advanced laser technologies and instruments, which are key components of a quantum communication network.

Quantum communication lines feature ultrahigh security. It is theoretically impossible to wiretap, intercept or crack the information transmitted through them, according to research.

After three years of construction, a 712-km quantum communication line was recently put into operation between Hefei and Shanghai, making it the world's longest quantum communications network.

The Hefei-Shanghai line is part of the Beijing-Shanghai quantum communication network. The network will mainly secure quantum encryption communication by government and military authorities in Beijing and financial institutions in Shanghai, said Chen Yu'ao, chief designer of the network and a professor at University of Science and Technology of China in Hefei.

He added that the quantum encryption technology will be of great importance to the military.

In August, China launched the world's first quantum experiment satellite to verify quantum communication theories.

Internationally, all major technology powers, including the United States, the European Union and Japan, are investing heavily in the research of quantum encryption technologies.

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