It’s certainly possible that China might one day “pull ahead” in quantum technology, but the Aug. 19 front-page article “Race is on for China, U.S. as quantum tech rivalry grows” didn’t make the case that this will happen anytime soon.

While the article noted correctly that China is leading the world in quantum-related patents, the bulk of evidence shows that these patents are generally of low quality. A recent academic analysis shows that China publishes fewer scientific papers on the topic than the United States and that few of these papers are cited by other scholars. Indeed, Canada (population 37 million) produces research on quantum computing that gets cited more than China’s (population 1.38 billion). So do Britain and Germany.

The problem facing the United States is not pathbreaking discoveries coming out of China but, rather, a broken patent system that has allowed a geopolitical rival to claim intellectual property rights over obvious “innovations” that didn’t warrant protection in the first place.

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