Australia aims to protect, promote critical technologies

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced a plan to protect and promote technologies critical to the country’s national interests in a challenge to China’s emerging dominance in key strategic areas

The first focus would be on nine critical technologies on a list of 63. The top nine include quantum technologies that use quantum physics to access, transmit, and process vast amounts of information.

“I am convinced that the new strategy will help position Australia as a quantum technology leader in the Indo-Pacific,” Morrison told a virtual conference hosted by the think tank Australian Strategic Policy Institute.

The list – which also includes artificial intelligence, advanced 5G communications and genetic engineering – could be used to prevent Chinese collaboration with Australian universities in certain types of research and to block some exports and foreign investment, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.

Physicists at the University of Science and Technology of China said in a statement last month that they had developed the world’s fastest programmable quantum computer system called Zuchongzhi 2.1.

Under the new plan, the Australian government will invest 70 million Australian dollars ($ 51 million) over a decade in a Quantum Commercialization Hub designed to help commercialize Australian quantum research and connect to global markets and supply chains.

The name would be designed to attract private investment and to partner with similar bodies among “like-minded nations,” Morrison said.

Australia has already signed such an agreement with the United States.

President Joe Biden, Morrison and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced in September that Australia would acquire at least eight submarines powered by US nuclear technology under a new trilateral alliance. Australia scrapped an AU $ 90 billion ($ 66 billion) contract with France to build 12 diesel-electric submarines.

Morrison said the three allies will report to their leaders by December on how to improve joint capabilities in quantum technologies, cyber and artificial intelligence.

The United States, India, Japan and Australia also deepened their technological partnerships through the strategic framework known as the Quad, Morrison said.

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