China develops handheld sonic weapon for crowd control: report
China has developed the world's first portable sonic gun to control riots, the Chinese Academy of Sciences announced.
The instrument was jointly created with the military and law enforcement and is meant to disperse crowds using focused waves of low-frequency sound, according to a report in the South China Morning Post (SCMP).
The scientists reportedly said the device's "biological effect" is extreme discomfort, with vibrations in the eardrums, eyeballs, stomach, liver and brain.
Some studies have indicated that low-frequency sound can cause dizziness, fatigue, annoyance, headaches and even heart palpitations.
The news comes as China grapples with how to address ongoing pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, which have at times become violent and brought the city's airport to a standstill.
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Professor Xie Xiujuan, lead scientist on the project, told the Chinese publication that the device is powered by a tube-shape vessel containing an inert gas. When heated, the gas particles vibrate and a deep, monotonous sound is emitted.
However, Xie would not reveal details of the device’s frequency or its range.
The prototype has passed field and third-party tests, and scientists have completed an assessment of its effects on the body, according to scientists.
SCMP reports that she also declined to comment on its potential uses without approval from higher authorities.