We speculated at the time that "China may be working not just on basic nanoscale technologies, but also on molecular nanotechnology, presumably aimed at a third-stage accomplishment of molecular manufacturing." Since then, we've seen nothing to indicate that Chinese scientists definitely are working in this direction, although we cannot rule it out.
Two things, however, clearly are true:
1) China has moved rapidly forward in nanotechnology research and development.
2) They are maintaining a firm commitment to build a strong military, making use of the latest technologies.
In the past decade, China has undergone two military high-tech reforms designed to give the country a modern fighting force.
These quotes are from a recent story in the Christian Science Monitor.
In a surprisingly short time, China has accomplished two feats. One, it has focused its energy and wealth on creating an army within an army. It has devoted huge amounts of capital to create a small high-tech army within its old 2.2 million-member rifle and shoe-leather force. . .
The past three years have yielded the impressive fruits of a modernization campaign started in the late 1990s: A nuclear attack submarine, the 093, launches in months; presumably it will be capable one day of firing satellite-guided cruise missiles that can blast a cruiser or carrier.
The article notes that...
US planners no longer talk dismissively of China's power or, potentially, its reach. In a key shift, US ability to quickly and easily defend Taiwan in an attack is no longer a given. Chinese cruise missiles are creating a more lethal environment in the Taiwan Straits.
This summer, Gen. Zhu Chenghu, dean of China's National Defense University, raised the subject of weapons of mass destruction, which China rarely mentions, in connection with Taiwan. Should US forces aid Taiwan in a war, he told bewildered US visitors, "Americans will have to be prepared that hundreds ... of cities will be destroyed by Chinese" nuclear weapons.
If the earth's most populous nation, one with an extremely fast-growing economy, is preparing for military confrontation with the world's only superpower, that's unsettling. But if either or both of these great nations were to develop the capability for molecular manufacturing, that's scary. War in a time of advanced nanotechnology could be extraordinarily dangerous and destructive.