China's new laser-powered rifle can literally set you on fire

Don't worry, it's "non-lethal."

Jennifer Bisset Former Senior Editor / Culture
Jennifer Bisset was a senior editor for CNET. She covered film and TV news and reviews. The movie that inspired her to want a career in film is Lost in Translation. She won Best New Journalist in 2019 at the Australian IT Journalism Awards.
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Jennifer Bisset
2 min read
Hong Kong Marks 21 Years After Its Handover To China
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You could get burned if you upset the Chinese government.

Researchers in the country have reportedly developed a prototype laser assault rifle with similar dimensions to an AK-47, according to South China Morning Post. The new high-tech weapon is dubbed the ZKZM-500.

The ZKZM-500 can reportedly set a person on fire using lasers. From 800 metres (about half a mile) away or less, the rifle can burn through a target's clothes and skin and, if their clothes are flammable, set them on fire, according to a scientist who spoke to the Post .

The weapon reportedly weighs about 3 kilograms (6.6lbs) with a calibre of 15 millimetres, powered by rechargeable lithium batteries that allow 1,000 zaps at 2 seconds a go.

Despite that information, the weapon has been described as "non-lethal", according to a document released last month on the Public Service Platform for National Civil-Military Integration, cited by the Post, suggesting that's because the laser rifle doesn't have the same consequences as a gun.

ZKZM-500 is reportedly ready for mass production for China's military and police only, according to the Post, but maker ZKZM Laser hasn't found a licensed partner yet. 

This is just another example of not-so-friendly tech coming out of China's modern-day dystopia. The government plans to install RFID chips into new Chinese-market cars to track a vehicle's location, and has been using bird drones, each equipped with a high-definition camera, for surveying its citizens, each of whom it plans to give a personal score based on behaviour by 2020.

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