China must become self-reliant in key technology to be secure, says military newspaper

Kristin Huang
·3-min read

An official Chinese military newspaper has urged the country to speed up innovation and become self-reliant in key technology.

The article, headlined “Gain superiority with innovation” and published by the PLA’s China National Defence News, said China should speed up the development of strategic, forward-looking and transformative technologies.

The article named 5G, big data, blockchain, artificial intelligence and quantum computing as examples of key technologies to master and said “no matter how difficult it is, we must face the hurdles, try to surpass other nations, and level up the contribution of technological innovation to the military and combat capabilities build-up”.

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“The military field has always been the field where confrontation is the most intense and requires the most innovative spirit,” the article continued.

“Key technologies cannot be bought with money. Only by taking the road of independent innovation can the country’s overall security be fundamentally guaranteed.

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“A new round of scientific and technological revolution is speeding up around the world, new technologies continue to make breakthroughs … and have profoundly changed the development and evolution of military and war patterns,” it said, adding “only the innovators can win military confrontations”.

The article came as confrontation between China and its major rival the US has intensified, especially in the disputed South China Sea region, where both sides have conducted a series of drills.

In late May, Bloomberg reported that China was accelerating its bid for global leadership and will invest an estimated 10 trillion yuan (US$1.4 trillion) over six years to 2025, calling on city governments and hi-tech giants like Huawei Technologies to help develop 5G wireless networks and AI software to support automated vehicles and mass surveillance.

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In August, a report on military technology from the US Congressional Research Service, said China was the United States’ strongest competitor in cutting-edge military technologies such as artificial intelligence and quantum computing.

Song Zhongping, a Hong Kong-based military commentator, said although China had poured money into technological development, it still lagged behind other major countries in a variety of technological fronts.

“Despite China having made impressive progressive in hi-tech weapons like hypersonic drones, China’s technological foundation is still relatively weak. Take the semiconductor industry for example, China cannot produce good-quality chips and can only rely on imported ones. This is also a bottleneck for China to develop more sophisticated military technologies,” Song said.

“If a nation’s military is not strong enough and cannot be self-reliant, the country’s national security and developmental interests would be put at risk. Faced with rivals, China has no other choice but to build a more advanced military.”

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