China could beat US on AI, 5G, quantum computing

A Harvard University report has highlighted China’s tremendous progress in many areas of advanced technology.

Harvard’s Belfer Center report was published Tuesday. The report warns of the current attitude towards China and points out that China’s tremendous growth in manufacturing has enabled progress in research and development.

“It has overtaken the US as the world’s largest high-tech manufacturer by 2020, producing 250 million computers, 25 million cars and 1.5 billion smartphones,” the report said.

It warned that China is already number one in some areas, while in other areas it could overtake the US, based on its current trajectory.

artificial intelligence

The Harvard report echoed the view of former Google CEO Eric Schmidt, that China is now a “perfect competitor” to the US in artificial intelligence.

Referring to key areas of artificial intelligence, the report said: “In speech technology, Chinese companies are outperforming US companies in every language, including English. The world’s largest speech recognition startup, iFlytek of China, has 700 million users. In terms of financial technology (fintech), the 900 million Chinese users of WeChat Pay far outnumber Apple Pay’s 44 million in the US while two-thirds of Americans still rely on credit cards, 90 percent of urban Chinese main currently use mobile payments, for every US dollar spent on mobile platforms is $150 – a total of $42 trillion by 2020.

The Harvard Report explained the importance of these numbers. It noted that the release “generates a wealth of detailed data on individual consumer behavior that can be used to develop other fintech applications, such as AI-powered assessments of individuals’ creditworthiness.”

The report warned that the US “put on the race” in facial recognition technology over privacy concerns.

Referring to new areas of AI, the report described deep learning as “the hottest subfield”. It noted: “China has six times more patent publications than the United States” [in Deep Learning]. And according to an official assessment from the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence, by 2025, the United States will be second in the top 1% of the most cited AI papers.


The report acknowledged that China was the world’s largest 5G market, accounting for 87 percent of the world’s 5G connections at the end of 2020.

The report states that “almost all leading indicators support projections that China will dominate the 5G future. By the end of 2020, China had 150 million 5G users compared to the US’s 6 million; 700,000 5G base out of the US’s 50,000.” stations; 460 MHz of licensed mid-band spectrum up to 70 MHz in the US; and 300 Mbps in 5G with average speeds of up to 60 Mbps in the US. Two of the five major 5G equipment suppliers are Chinese; zero are American.”

China was aware of America’s competitive advantage in 5G research and deployment, standards and applications. “By recognizing the value of 5G standards and driven by high R&D budgets, Chinese companies are aggressively expanding their influence in standardization bodies – and destroying America.” Huawei is the leader in the shares of 5G patent families granted by the US and European Patent Offices and in accepted technical contributions from 5G to 3GPP…”, the report said.

The report warned that the US would be at a loss for 5G applications in the future, given the lack of a strong national infrastructure.

“China is already a leader in advanced 5G applications, including smart factory systems, digital twins for industrial applications, and the world’s first 5G-enabled remote surgery,” the report said.

quantum computing

The Harvard report argued that China is overtaking the US in some respects in some areas of quantum information science (QIS), including quantum computing, quantum communications and quantum sensing. China currently spends four times more than the US on QIS.

“China has also shown its ability to quickly transition R&D to operational dominance. In December 2020, just a year after Google’s 53-qubit Sycamore superconducting quantum computer reached quantum supremacy, China reached the same milestone. That month, a photonic quantum computer built by China’s University of Science and Technology reached quantum supremacy “10 billion times faster than Google’s, for some calculations in physics,” the report said.

Referring to quantum communications, the report said: “Edward Snowden’s 2013 leaks uncovered US secret intelligence-gathering capabilities in China, prompting Beijing to accelerate progress in quantum communications — The ‘gold standard’ for security. As a result, China filed four times more patents than the US on quantum communications and cryptography in 2018 (517 to 117).

Leave a Comment