China Leads the World

China leads the world? Since when?

Prior to 1900 China invented almost everything, as you’ll see if you browse the 11,000 pages of Science and Civilization in China, by Joseph Needham. The range of Chinese ingenuity is staggering. Today, China is beginning to reassert its place in the world of innovation.Before we look at China’s technology, let’s look at some of the ‘soft’ disciplines. China leads the world in several ‘soft’ disciplines like

Economics: After 70 years of uninterrupted growth (GDP and wages) – it continued through a bloody, ten-year Cultural Revolution and eight years of post-GFC misery – combined with poverty elimination, superb infrastructure and 90 percent home ownership, it’s time to admit that China’s government are economic geniuses.

Education: Chinese schools lead the world by a very large margin, as you’ll see here. Shanghai 17-year-olds start university with almost the equivalent of an average American BA: the economic implications, alone, are staggering. More..

Governance: Great education (dear to Chinese hearts), 90% home ownership (most mortgage-free), doubling wages every decade, 80% trust and 90% policy approval: no government on earth has managed that. It’s time to admit that they’re very, very good at running a country.

Law and Justice: Among the lowest spending on internal security, incarceration and recidivism rates on earth, and super-high trust….

We can argue about China’s legal system ’til the cows come home, but there’s not much argument about technologies: they either work or they don’t. Here are some hard technologies in which China leads the world:

Quantum Communications: Various teams have tried device-independent quantum cryptography and shown that it works. But there is a problem. It is slow—snail-blazingly, slothfully slow. The best demonstration so far sent information over a distance of 200 kilometers at a data rate of just 0.018 bits per second. At this rate, perfectly secure quantum cryptography would never be practical. Today that changes thanks to the work of Hua-Lei Yin at the University of Science and Technology of China in Hefei, and a few pals who unveil a record-breaking demonstration of a form of device-independent quantum cryptography for the first time. This week, China will start installing the world’s longest quantum-communications network, which includes a 2,000-kilometre link between Beijing and Shanghai. China’s space-based quantum communications networkQuantum Cryptographers Set 400K Distance Record

Supercomputing: China makes the fastest computers on earth (First to reach 100 Petaflops) and uses only Chinese components. China has the most energy efficient computer in the Top 10 and the most machines in Top 500.  More..

Sunway Supercomputer

China Leads the World in Supercomputing

In-Space Satellite Refueling: China has successfully completed the in-space refuel of orbital satellites following last week’s launch of a new generation carrier rocket, the National University of Defense Technology announced on Thursday. Similar to air refueling for planes, the process refuels a satellite in orbit in a microgravity environment and will extend a satellite’s functional life and boost its maneuver capabilities considerably. Developed by the university, Tianyuan-1 is the country’s first in-space refueling system for orbital satellites. It was launched into orbit aboard the Long March-7 carrier rocket on Saturday. A series of core independent processes were tested and verified after the launch, with data and videos recording the full process sent back to earth, the university said in a statement.”The injection process was stable, and measurement and control were precise,” it said, adding that the test proved that Tianyuan-1 met design requirements. Though an area of great interest, the process is complicated and only a few countries have began experiments. Source..

Hypersonic Glide Vehicles: The maneuvering glider, which is nearing initial operating capability, was tracked by satellites as it flew west along the edge of the atmosphere to an impact area in the western part of the country. It was the seventh successful flight test of the revolutionary glider, which travels at speeds between 4,000 and 7,000 miles per hour. Russian Deputy PM Dmitry Rogozin said in 2012 that the nation that masters hypersonic weapons first would revolutionize warfare. He compared the strategic significance of the high-speed weapons to development of the first atomic bombs.. Source..

Graphenics: Graphene – an allotrope of carbon in the form of a two-dimensional, atomic-scale , honey-comb lattice – is expected to become the next electronics substrate. CambridgeIP researched graphene patents and says the UK may be falling behind in the graphene race. The leading countries by graphene patents are China (2,204), US (1,754) and Korea (1,160).  China already dominates graphene patents. This means it will also dominate production of the next generation of substratesThis is also a big deal with widespread strategic implications. More...

Power Generation: China still uses lots of coal, but has found innovative ways to burn it far more efficiently. It’s work on atomic power also leads the world: China blazes trail for ‘clean’ nuclear power from thoriumConstruction progresses on China’s High Temperature Pebble Bed Nuclear Reactor Conventional power generation (Duke Energy licenses their technology from China).

Genomics: The United States has fallen woefully behind China when it comes to genomic research, according to National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins, M.D. While we, the United States, led the Human Genome Project and from that derived great benefit—the return on that investment was 178 to 1 in terms of economic growth—and yet if you ask me now where is the largest investment in genomics in the world?, it is not in the United States. It is in, Shenzhen, China,” said Collins during a Sept. 10 roundtable discussion on 21st century cures hosted by the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

Anti-Ship Missiles: Desperate to compete with China’s long-range anti-ship missiles, the US Navy is considering one of two options: forge ahead with the expensive, but state-of-the-art LRASM, or upgrade the Cold War-era Tomahawk, a missile never intended for naval warfare.  Beijing unveiled .. More..

Hypersonic Missiles. These are the ‘Prompt Global Strike’ devices that can hit anywhere in the world from any angle (polar, equatorial..) within 20 minutes. The US has not tested such a device lately but China’s is operational.

Passive Array Radar. The major reason for the F-22’s withdrawal from Japan to Guam was that an F-22 was discovered and locked on by China’s passive array radar.High Voltage Transmission: China already has seven ultra-high-voltage (UHV) lines in operation, more than any other country, carrying power over thousands of kilometers at around 800,000 or even 1 million volts. In April, the government gave the go-ahead to build another line operating at 1 million volts between rural Anhui province and the cities of Nanjing and Shanghai.Metamaterials. China is leading the global race in the development of metamaterials, spearheading a new trend that is revolutionizing technology in fields ranging from telecommunications to aerospace, reports the overseas edition of the Communist Party mouthpiece People’s Daily. Metamaterials are defined as materials engineered to have properties that have not yet been found in nature. They are made from complex assemblies of multiple elements fashioned from conventional materials and derive their properties from their designed structure — such as shape, geometry, size, orientation and arrangement — as opposed to the properties of the base materials.

Speech Recognition: Baidu announcing that its Silicon Valley lab had developed a powerful speech recognition engine called Deep Speech 2. It consists of a very large, or “deep”, neural network that learns to associate sounds with words and phrases as it is fed millions of examples of transcribed speech. Deep Speech 2 can recognise spoken words with stunning accuracy. In fact, the researchers found that it can sometimes transcribe snippets of Putonghua more accurately than a person. Baidu’s progress is all the more impressive because Putonghua is phonetically complex and uses tones that transform the meaning of a word. Deep Speech 2 is also striking because few of the researchers in the California lab where the technology was developed speak Putonghua, Cantonese or any other variant of Chinese. The engine essentially works as a universal speech system, learning English just as well when fed enough examples. More..

GraphenicsChina is the country with the most graphene patents in the world, having cumulatively applied for 7,900 patents by the end of Mar 2015 and in the GNP segment, the top three graphene producers in capacity are all Chinese.

Thorium power: China blazes trail for ‘clean’ nuclear power from thorium
The Chinese are running away with thorium energy, sharpening a global race for the prize of clean, cheap, and safe nuclear power.  Thorium and the Energy Outlook of China.

Pebble Bed Reactors: China Could Have a Meltdown-Proof Nuclear Reactor Next Year. In what would be a milestone for advanced nuclear power, China’s Nuclear Engineering Construction Corporation plans to start up a high-temperature, gas-cooled pebble-bed nuclear plant next year in Shandong province, south of Beijing. The twin 105-megawatt reactors—so-called Generation IV reactors that would be immune to meltdown—would be the first of their type built at commercial scale in the world. More..

Genomics: The United States has fallen woefully behind China when it comes to genomic research, according to National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins, M.D.  More..

Thermal Power generation: China Fuels Energy Innovation. China leads the world in investment in clean-energy infrastructure, and few nations embrace potential breakthrough inventions with such zeal. That combination allows commercial development of innovations that otherwise might never make it out of labs in the West. Duke Energy, which will have to replace nearly the entire power-generating infrastructure for its aging fleet by 2050, two years ago signed its first agreement in China to explore clean-energy technology with China Huaneng Group, the country’s largest utility. “Can we actually bring clean-energy technologies to our customers in the Americas quicker, cheaper and with less risk than if we did it ourselves?” asks Chief Technology Officer David Mohler. “What made China stand out was they were building so much clean energy infrastructure so quickly at such huge scales.” More..

Quantum Communication Networks: China is already becoming a world leader in quantum communications technology; a satellite that delivers quantum communications will be a cornerstone for translating cutting-edge research into a strategic asset for Chinese power worldwide. The Quantum Space Satellite, aka Quantum Experiments at Space Scale (QUESS), will seek to turn this theory into reality. It will be launched in July 2016. Chief scientist Pan Jianwei remarks that QUESS will complete China’s growing quantum communications network, which includes a 2,000-kilometer-long network between Beijing and Shanghai. More..

Anti-Ship Ballistic Missiles:  Reputedly, these were developed after a Chinese Admiral was hosted aboard a US Navy aircraft carrier. He returned to his base and told his staff, “I’ve just seen the biggest floating target on earth. If we can’t hit it, something’s wrong with us”. Beijing unveiled its DF-21D Dong Feng “carrier killer” missile in 2014. Rumored to be capable of traveling at Mach 10 – or ten times the speed of sound – with an effective range of 1,200 miles, the Navy has expressed concern that the weapon could pose a major threat to US aircraft carriers in the event of conflict. On Wednesday, US Deputy Chief of Naval Operations Joseph Aucoin outlined the Pentagon’s plan for how best to counter the Dong Feng.

In-Flight Satellite Refueling: China has successfully completed the in-space refuel of orbital satellites following last week’s launch of a new generation carrier rocket, the National University of Defense Technology announced on Thursday. Similar to air refueling for planes, the process refuels a satellite in orbit in a microgravity environment and will extend a satellite’s functional life and boost its maneuver capabilities considerably. Developed by the university, Tianyuan-1 is the country’s first in-space refueling system for orbital satellites. More..

Passive Array RadarHow China Will Track—and Kill—America’s Newest Stealth Jets, he says that the People’s Liberation Army has a gigantic JH-27A VHF active electronically scanned array radar, which if “Chinese officials are telling the truth”, is “the first of its type in service anywhere” “to track stealthy targets”. More..

Metamaterials: (materials engineered to have a property that is not found in nature) made from assemblies of multiple elements fashioned from composite materials such as metals or plastics. ‘Invisibility cloaks’ are made of metamaterial and China’s grabbed a lead in this field. More..

Hyper spectral Imaging: A key in this program is the China Commercial Remote-sensing Satellite System (CCRSS), to be launched later this year. It can collect data on 328 electromagnetic bands, offering very high resolution of up to 15 meters, according to the researchers from the Institute of Remote Sensing and Digital Earth in Beijing. In comparison, the U.S. TacSat 3, launched in 2010, collects several hundred electromagentic bands, though at a higher resolution of 4 meters. While it is being launched for commercial users, like most other Chinese earth-observation satellites, it would also be available for military use. More..

UHV Electricity transmission: China’s power engineers have become world leaders in ultra-high-voltage transmission systems connecting far-off power sources with cities hungry for electricity. China already has seven ultra-high-voltage (UHV) lines in operation, more than any other country, carrying power over thousands of kilometers at around 800,000 or even 1 million volts. More..

High Speed Rail: 20,000  km. routes carrying 3 million people daily at 300km/hour. 100% Chinese technology.

China Leads the World in Radiotelescopy: Boasting half a kilometre in diameter, it is the largest telescope dish in the world to date. The 500-metre Aperture Spherical Radio Telescope (FAST), which has been under construction in the Guizhou Province in south-west China since 2011, was completed on July 3 when the final panel was lowered into position. Excitingly, this new eye on the sky will be able to search for new exoplanets, gravitational waves and even signals from extraterrestrial civilizations. More..

Written by Godfree
Visiting China and studying it since 1967. Interested in its culture, politics, education and economy.