The technical dilemma is shared worldwide. In reaction, in the year of 2005, the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) was founded in France to unite the EU, India, Japan, South Korea, Russia, China, and the US to collaborate on this dream project. China, in particular, was the first country to declare participation, followed by the EU, Japan, and Russia. Financially, China, being a developing country, has contributed 10% of the total cost (12 billion dollars) like the USA, Japan, and France. Meanwhile, China is the largest supplier of ITER, manufacturing the components for the operation of the reactor.
In fact, China was a later comer in the field of nuclear energy. In comparison with the United States and Japan – the leading countries in this technology, China only joined in the development in the 80s and managed to catch up in the recent 20 years. In 1995, Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST) was established in Hefei, Anhui Province aside from the participation in ITER. In 2012 July, EAST created two world records: the longest time of high-temperature-discharge, and the longest time of high-confinement-discharge. In 2017, EAST broke another world record: achieving a high confinement operation with a continuous discharge of 50 million degrees plasma for 101.2 seconds, accomplishing the milestone of the 60-to-100-second stage. Its steady-state operation mode has provided important data for ITER and other reactors. In January 2020, EAST has reached up to 200 million degrees, marking a step closer to success. In the same year, the new device HL-2M was finished and started operating at the Southwest Institute of Physics in China. HL-2M particularly focuses on the mitigation effects of various advanced diverter configurations on the target plate thermal load and provides an experimental basis for ITER and other reactors. See what goes in, and energy comes out.
The yearning for the realisation of nuclear fusion has impacted on Chinese youths intellectually and culturally. Today, “ke kong he ju bian” (the pinyin of “controlled nuclear fusion” in Mandarin Chinese), has become a buzzword in Chinese Netizens. It became first widely known in 2018, at “A Spoonful of Ideas” Roundtable talk, in which the speaker raised the point that even though there seem to be solutions to the environmental concerns, for instance, the electronic automobiles to decrease the harmful gas emission, the charging of the vehicles still relies on burning the fossil fuels. Therefore, they do not essentially solve the problem but controlled nuclear fusion will, as it avoids all types of carbon-based consumptions and thereby the greenhouse consequences. Nowadays, if you search for the keywords, you can see multiple million articles, videos, and discussions in Chinese around this subject. In a number of Chinese sci-fi’s, the application can be readily seen in the imaginary future. The Wandering Earth, written by the Hugo Award-winning author Liu Cixin, depicts that the planet Earth has to travel to a different habitable galaxy like a spaceship. Human beings have to live underground as the Earth is leaving the solar system because it is becoming deadly frozen on the surface. To keep the planet, as well as life, moving forward, the major source of energy is controlled nuclear fusion. Through the influences of the internet, academia, literature, and movies, this technology is attracting increasing interests and perhaps also contributions among the younger generations.