It's a similar point made recently to us by Thales, which similarly warned that hostile actors that have reached quantum supremacy would be able to break basically everything.
This is one reason America's National Institute of Standards and Technology is leading work on quantum-resistant cryptographic algorithms, although the draft standards for quantum-resistant public-key crypto algorithms is likely to be years away.
Post-quantum cryptography, Cheng notes, is given more attention in the medium-term roadmaps of the big technology firms today, rather than quantum computing in general.
Yuri Andersson and Claudio Marinelli, the entrepreneurs leading the QTEC quantum accelerator that operates from Bristol University, agree that developments in quantum are absolutely critical from a national perspective.
"I think it's crucial to develop sovereign capabilities," says Andersson. "This is a supply chain issue also, because if there is any one nation state that develops quantum production capabilities they may restrict the use of that for other nations."
They say that we can expect steady streams of developments throughout 2020, including in communications and quantum sensors, for example.
"We will be seeing quantum sensors monitoring oil and gas installations and in terms of communications there will also be some new developments," says Andersson. "I think it's probably a couple years before we see that being rolled out ... but there are some significant products that are underway.
"I think in terms of computing we are still going to see developments – the big announcement by Google, I think a lot of the other computing companies will follow with their own announcements. In the next year or so I think we will see some useful applications for quantum computing as well."
From a UK lens, Andersson says that the challenge will be keeping up with Silicon Valley, as well as the country's seemingly endless flow of capital to throw at startups. But blocks to this, especially in a post-Brexit world, could include failing to attract the right talent from other countries, although Marinelli adds that Britain's position is a "strong one", and that the UK was one of the front-runners in cultivating the necessary expertise.
But one particular challenge for the UK's quantum startup space, according to Andersson, is that quantum is "the deep end of deep tech" – and bringing the ideas of scientists into the business world is a real change that's not natural for many people working in the field.
Both Andersson and Marinelli believe more attention needs to be paid to adjacent fields of quantum research.
"Sensors is something that's been overlooked in the story of quantum technology," says Andersson. "There's a lot of focus on computing, as that's what generates the headlines, and that's what's the sexy story, but there's a lot of down to earth, real applications in sensors – methane sensing, or next-generation medical imaging – that's a real story that's not been told. That might get a little less hype bus is more the real-life, near-term applications."
"The risk is because some of this technology will use quantum as a starting technology enabler but will land as an application in a different market, people might not realise that something may be achieved thanks to breakthroughs aimed at quantum technologies," agrees Marinelli. "As Yuri pointed out, all the work around quantum sensors gets a little overlooked."