Only days after completing production of the largest amphibious aircraft ever built, China has just revealed plans to launch the world’s first satellite designed to conduct quantum experiments in space — a move that could one day lead to a highly secure “orbital internet.”
Assuming the initial satellite performs well, as many as 20 additional craft would follow in the effort to create a new category of communications network. Chinese researchers believe their work could ignite a space race as other nations move to refine the technology.
“Definitely, I think there will be a race,” Chaoyang Lu, a physicist at the University of Science and Technology of China, told science journal Nature.
In addition to bringing the world one step closer to a planet-wide Internet based on quantum mechanics, the proposed network would bring a level of security to communication never before known.
Quantum communications are secure because any tinkering with them is detectable. Two parties can communicate secretly — by sharing an encryption key encoded in the polarization of a string of photons, say — safe in the knowledge that any eavesdropping would leave a mark.
The militaristic applications of such technology should be clear to all, as classified information and data on top secret projects could be hidden from other nations’ eyes. But there are implications here that should give the everyday citizen pause, as highlighted by UK’s The Sun:
Having an internet based in space would also be very useful for surveillance operations, as it would allow spies to snoop on Planet Earth using high resolution cameras whilst hiding resulting data from the public or enemy nations.
Whatever the potential effects, China’s taking the lead in this type of innovation — and the fact that they’re making it known — is very much in line with the country’s recent exhibiting of its considerable capabilities.
Days before announcing its plan to launch its satellites, China unveiled the AG600, the largest amphibious aircraft ever assembled. Measuring 121 feet in length and with a wingspan of 128 feet, the craft is nearly the size of a Boeing 737.
While the purported purpose of the AG600 is to combat forest fires and conduct maritime rescue missions, Defense News was quick to point out that the craft is “well within round-trip range of Chinese military forces occupying Woody Island in the South China Sea from China’s southern coastline of Hainan Island.”
The South China Sea, as Underground Reporter has previously outlined, is currently a region of great dispute for the United States and the Republic of China.
This conflict — which has both sides preparing for all-out naval warfare — is one reason why eyebrows should’ve raised at China’s recent release of footage of mid-air ballistic missiles destroying targets miles above Earth. Britain’s The Mirror noted the coincidental timing:
The footage is the first time their test — which took place six years ago — has been seen by the public and it could be a warning shot to the US.
Days before the release, evidence of the growing tension between the two countries manifested at the G20 summit. A Bloomberg report on July 24 noted that, by the end of the talks, China and the United States “showed signs of being at odds” on how to proceed with economic policy.
Weeks ago, an editorial in China’s state-run newspaper Global Times suggested the United States “wants to send a signal by flexing its muscles” via interference in the regional conflict in the South China Sea, and that as the “biggest powerhouse” in those waters, it “awaits China’s obedience.”
The same editorial claims China will make the United States “pay a cost it cannot stand” and that the country “won’t flinch” in the face of U.S. intrusion into its territory.
So if nothing else can be taken from China’s recent string of unveilings — in the realms of both militaristic might and technological innovation — it’s that the country has sizable muscles of its own. And if the tough talk is to be believed, they’re not at all afraid to put them to use.
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