By Michael Banks in Hong Kong
“Hong Kong is a bit like China 101,” says Giulio Chiribella, a quantum-information theorist from Hong Kong University. “China for beginners.”
The native Italian ought to know, having spent three years in Beijing at Tsingua University before moving to Hong Kong last August.
At Tsingua, Chiribella held a 1000 Talents grant – a Chinese government initiative to attract foreign researchers to the country, as well as to persuade Chinese researchers who had gone abroad to return home. He was awarded a RMB 2m (£200,000) grant for three years in Beijing, where he led a group of 15 people.
“1000 Talents is a brilliant idea and China is a place of great potential,” says Chiribella. “It was a busy and very productive time: 30 published papers and a book.”
Chiribella says that he was attracted to a move to Hong Kong because he could build a group on quantum-information theory and develop the topic in the region. Part of that drive is a workshop to be held at the university starting tomorrow that will bring together more than 100 researchers, who are mostly from Hong Kong but also from around the world.
I am in Hong Kong to gather material for a Physics World special report on China that will be published in September. This morning I visited Renbao Liu of the Chinese University of Hong Kong, who works in the upcoming field of quantum sensing. He uses nitrogen vacancies in diamond as a sensitive probe to study magnetism.
Originally from China, Liu was attracted to Hong Kong for its mixture of Western freedoms and Chinese culture. While he says that healthy competition with mainland China is good, it is leading to a brain drain given the vast resources that China is putting into science.
Another aspect that is scarce at the univeristy, and indeed in the city in general, is space. Given that lab space is precious, the losers seem to be students, whose desks are situated in corridors.
Check out our previous Physics World special report on China, which was published in 2011.