To get an idea of how well-equipped China is to prevent mass anti-government protests, you need only look at some of the security equipment that was being touted by Chinese companies at this week’s IDEX arms fair in Abu Dhabi.
When China’s leaders crushed pro-democracy protests around Tiananmen Square in 1989, they sent in the army with tanks and live ammunition. These days, they would have many other ways of dispersing such crowds – or preventing them forming in the first place.
Chinese companies are now producing advanced surveillance, crowd control and other security equipment – some of it modeled on U.S. technology developed during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan — and are starting to sell it around the world.
Among the Chinese firms advertising their wares at IDEX were several offering counter-terrorism and public security equipment, according to National Defense Magazine’s blog post on the exhibition.
The products ranged from body armor, riot shields and armored vehicles, to sniper detection devices, explosives scanners and – perhaps most importantly in this age of tech savvy trouble makers — mobile telephone and Internet jamming equipment.
One of the Chinese companies at the exhibition was CETC International, which was founded in 2002 and now says it supplies several Chinese government agencies, as well as exporting to dozens of foreign countries.
Under “Anti-terrorism and Security Products”, the company’s website lists jamming devices, surveillance drones, 360 degree cameras and command and control systems, some of which, it proudly claims, were used during the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
It also advertises what it calls “Directed High-intensity Acoustic Low-lethal Weapons for Police, ” a sound-based crowd-control device that appears similar to the sonic weapon more conventionally known as a long range acoustic device (or LRAD).
“Strong noise weapons are used to converge certain audible noise into high-intensity sounds to achieve long-distance spread of sound energy,” it says. “At the same time, by stimulating the human hearing sense, internal organs and central nervous system and other organs, it can weaken or destroy the mobs hearing effectiveness so as to control the sitnation (sic).”
CETC International, whose mission is to “Dedicate to the Motherland, Contribute to the Society, Serve the Customers” according to its website, is the export arm of the state-run China Electronics Technology Corp and notched up foreign sales of $1.2 billion in 2009, according to state media.
Neither its website nor state media give many details about those sales – and none appear to have been made public at IDEX — but the company seems to have identified the most likely potential foreign customers. According to its web site, it has overseas branches in the following countries: Algeria, Egypt, Morocco, Angola, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Thailand, Myanmar, Syria, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela.