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satel­lites con­nect­ing dozens of ground-based sta­tions and net­works.

“But the fi­nal num­ber of satel­lites de­pends on its us­age and mar­ket needs,” said Pan, adding that there are other ma­jor hur­dles to over­come, such as dis­tribut­ing quan­tum keys across con­ti­nents dur­ing day­time. The lat­ter feat was first achieved by China in July when Mi­cius beamed one over 53 kilo­me­ters dur­ing the day.

The United States and Ja­pan also have plans for quan­tum com­mu­ni­ca­tion. Ja­pan launched a mi­crosatel­lite named SOCRATES in 2014, and it con­ducted its own quan­tum channel test in July.

How­ever, Mi­cius is a much larger, ver­sa­tile satel­lite ca­pa­ble of dif­fer­ent ex­per­i­ments, and has had more suc­cess. “China will lead the quan­tum space race for the next five years,” said Pan. “But the world is also catch­ing up fast.”

Over the years, Yang has an­swered count­less ques­tions from re­porters on ur­gent and sen­si­tive is­sues.

In ad­di­tion to a monthly news con­fer­ence, the in­for­ma­tion of­fice is tasked with pub­lic re­la­tions, cri­sis man­age­ment, me­dia ex­changes, help­ing to draft the na­tional se­cu­rity white paper, and in­ter­act­ing with ne­ti­zens through so­cial me­dia.

“My fam­ily has been very sup­port­ive for my work, but I have owed my fam­ily too much, and now they need me more than ever,” Yang said. He said he has no other plans for the fu­ture, and would first spend his summer with his fam­ily.

Typ­i­cally, se­nior gov­ern­ment spokes­men and women go into busi­ness or teach­ing af­ter re­tire­ment.

Se­nior Colonel Wu Qian, 44, has been ap­pointed as the new di­rec­tor of the min­istry’s in­for­ma­tion of­fice. He was pre­vi­ously deputy di­rec­tor and has been a spokesman since 2015.

He grad­u­ated from the Peo­ple’s Lib­er­a­tion Army In­sti­tute of In­ter­na­tional Re­la­tions in 1995 and has also been a coun­selor at the min­istry’s for­eign af­fairs of­fice be­fore join­ing the in­for­ma­tion of­fice.

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