China launched the world's first experimental quantum communications satellite on Tuesday, local media reported.
The satellite, named "Micius" after an ancient Chinese philosopher and engineer, was launched from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre in China's Inner-Mongolia region.
The new-generation communication system can resist nearly all conventional forms of decryption and has obvious potential military and financial applications, state news agency Xinhau said.
The Quantum Experiments at Space Scale (QUESS) satellite will transmit encrypted keys from space to the ground while providing insights into the scientific phenomenon of quantum entanglement.
"The newly-launched satellite marks a transition in China's role from a follower in classic information technology development to one of the leaders guiding future IT achievements," the project's chief scientist Pan Jianwei told Xinhua.
The satellite is designed to distribute keys between relay stations on two different continents using high-speed coherent lasers.
As a quantum photon cannot be separated or duplicated, it becomes "impossible to wiretap, intercept or crack the information transmitted through it," Xinhua said.