The Chinese national flag is seen in Beijing. (Reuters photo) The Chinese national flag is seen in Beijing. (Reuters photo)

HONG KONG: China launched a large-scale experimental network in Beijing on Tuesday to test the future of internet technology over the next five to 10 years.

Headquartered at Tsinghua University, the “future internet technology infrastructure” connects 40 of the country’s leading research universities with huge bandwidth and far lower latency than the existing internet, according to state news agency Xinhua.

It will serve as a backbone network for the China Environment for Network Innovations (CENI), a national research facility connecting the largest cities in China, to verify its performance and the security of future network communications technology before commercial use.

When completed in 2023, the CENI facility will become a prototype “future internet” connecting to almost everything – from computers at home to cars on the street – for seamless communications in an AI-driven society.

“We will throw a lot of punches at it. The future internet must be able to stand firmly against attacks. It matters to the foundation of our national security,” said a computer scientist involved with the project at Tsinghua who asked not to be named, due to the project’s sensitivity.

China’s internet was built with Western technology and is riddled with back doors. The US government’s Prism project, for instance, exploited these weaknesses to infiltrate Chinese government and research institutes, including Tsinghua, according to US whistle-blower Edward Snowden.

After the Snowden revelations, Beijing launched a massive effort to replace the Western hardware in its information infrastructure. In recent years, a number of Chinese telecommunication companies, including Huawei Technologies Co, overtook their Western competitors in 5G and other cutting-edge technologies. But their technological lead was limited to certain fields and overseas software and protocols continued to prevail in Chinese networks.

The US government has also launched various experimental networks, including the Global Environment for Network Innovations (GENI), to maintain its overall lead in network technology. Other players,

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