How China Could Use Civilian Ships and Quantum Computing to Fight America at Sea



The building was drab on the exterior; a nondescript office complex on the fringe of Shenzhen outside of Hong Kong. Li Zhou opened the door and got out of her small car. She eyed the revolving door and made her way to the entrance as the vehicle moved along to its next user. She had reached the pinnacle of her career.

It all started with an acceptance to MIT, the job in Silicon Valley, a high paying research fellowship with DARPA and IBM then her eventual return home to the PRC. Zhou’s untimely departure in the eyes of her previous employer, a tech giant researching quantum technology, was under the guise of accepting a position at a smaller firm in Japan.

The whole time, Zhou was an intel officer with the Chinese ministry of state security known as the MSS.1 The assignment was initially very broad: infiltrate American industry. As her research progressed, the target become obvious. From those first classes at Cal Poly and the eventual Ph.D. from MIT, Li knew she was interested in the emerging field of quantum computing, specifically encryption.2 This interest played perfectly into the hands of the Chinese state.

The woman at the desk nodded and motioned to Zhou to follow. Dr. Zhou swiped her badge at the elevator bank and waited. The door opened, and she stepped inside.

They were on the brink of testing their new machine. Today was the first deployment of the technology. It was meant to be a test in a controlled lab to see if its power was as grand as they all thought. The timing was odd; it was six in the morning. This was something that PLA and her superiors at MSS insisted upon. She wasn’t sure what was truly going on, but she had a sense something much larger than her quantum machine was at play.