China looks to the future as it embarks on the mission to develop advanced technologies to become the new military technological superpower

China has selected 120 leading experts to work at a major research institute to boost the development of artificial intelligence and quantum technologies for military applications, the South China Morning Post reported, citing state media.

The People’s Liberation Army of China (PLA) has attracted experts to work at the Chinese Academy of Military Sciences, with more than 95% of researchers having PhD in some fields, specializing in particular in quantum technology and artificial intelligence.

The publication notes that such an approach is underway when Beijing tries to become a technical military superpower and catch up with the US armed forces.

“President Xi Jinping has launched a massive overhaul and modernization of the country’s military and he said in a speech given to the military science academy last July that China should aim at building world-class military technology institutes,” the South China Morning Post reported.

Collin Koh, a military expert, told the publication that China’s goal of entering these areas of military technology is due to its military strategy that seeks to “nullifying via asymmetrical means the general US military superiority in envisaged regional flashpoints such as the Taiwan Strait.” He said.

A group led by Pan Jianwei of the University of Science and Technology of China is one of China’s leading research teams on quantum technology. According to the analyst, China could gain a military advantage if it could learn to apply advances in quantum technology.

Quantum technologies permit the development of modern equipment and arms ranging from new satellites that can track military aircraft to cracking encrypted enemy codes.

“Quantum technology could be game-changing, and the successful integration of quantum technology with China’s regular military forces could profoundly change the regional security balance, which is already moving towards Beijing’s favor,” Ben Ho, a researcher at the military studies program at Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University, told the South China Morning Post.

Military expert Koh said the development of AI would reduce manpower requirements in the armed forces and was an inexpensive, low-risk way to project China’s military might into sometimes dangerous situations.

China sent a drone into disputed airspace near the Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea in 2013 and was then intercepted by a Japanese fighter aircraft. China and Japan claim the islands, and the conflict has become a source of long-standing tension between the two sides.