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China Buying US Directed Sound 'Weapon' 350

Posted by samzenpus
from the people's-sound-cannon dept.
holy_calamity writes "The directed sound weapon made by US company ATC is being exported to the Chinese police, despite the public law banning sales of weapons to China. Turns out that such 'non-lethal' technologies are not covered by this law — an omission that may become more widely known if they are used to quell high-profile protests during the Olympics."
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China Buying US Directed Sound 'Weapon'

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    What a great way to oppress folks and not leave bloody bodies around for cameras!
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by iNaya (1049686)
      If I were to be oppressed, I would much rather be oppressed by one of these things than a bullet. I don't see the problem. Next up: China buys rubber bullets, news at 9.
      • by SmokeyTheBalrog (996551) on Wednesday May 14, 2008 @08:59PM (#23412522)
        The problem is, it takes a lot more justification to fire a bullet than it does to use one of these.

        One of these and 2 or 3 people can effectively fight a crowd of thousands. In fact there is no reason for any government NOT to use these to quell their population and keep them goose stepping in line... except for morals.

        Furthermore, if a group or government is willing to use a cheap bullet in a situation they would be highly unlikely to purchase, train crews, and deploy these expensive non-lethal weapons.

        While these weapons definitely have their uses, they can also easily be abused. Perhaps even more easily than lethal weapons, since there is supposedly no lasting damage done. (Unlike rubber or plastic bullets which cause moderate too severe damage, can be deadly and are inaccurate.) I expect China to get a lot of use out of their purchase from now on.

        And on a final note, a lot of these weapons CAN be adjust to cause permanent damage. A lot of the R&D for these weapons was to design a targeting system to keep them from doing that. Change some settings and depending on the weapon large portions of a targeted crowd may never hear again or may never see again.
        • by PlatyPaul (690601) on Wednesday May 14, 2008 @09:27PM (#23412730) Homepage Journal

          Unlike rubber or plastic bullets which cause moderate too [sic] severe damage, can be deadly and are inaccurate.
          Actually, since they fall under the heading of incapacitating weapons, we're talking stun damage - guaranteed nonlethal (even if you overflow your remaining blocks).

          And yes, if you got that, you're also going to hell, chummer.
          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            Actually, since they fall under the heading of incapacitating weapons, we're talking stun damage

            There have been a several confirmed deaths from the use of Rubber and Plastic rounds, as well as serious injuries.

            So while the likely result of a properly trained solder using a rubber/plastic round is knocking someone down and making them have no wish to get back up. There significant chance of a more serious injury and a slight chance of fatality.

            "stun damage" it makes it sound like "Oh, gee I can't move" when

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by Tim C (15259)
            Plastic (or "baton") rounds were used quite extensively in Northern Ireland during The Troubles, and there were a number of high-profile cases of people being killed by them. They are *usually* non-lethal, but most emphatically not *definitely* non-lethal.

            For example, see this BBC news report [bbc.co.uk] from 2001 about plastic bullet use, which reports that at that time 17 people had been killed by them.
        • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

          by cjb658 (1235986)
          On the bright side, your family won't have to pay for the bullet that kills you.
  • by somersault (912633) on Wednesday May 14, 2008 @07:51PM (#23411840) Homepage Journal
    the Chinese have stolen Country and Western!
  • by QuantumG (50515) * <qg@biodome.org> on Wednesday May 14, 2008 @07:52PM (#23411854) Homepage Journal
    While stocks last.

  • by geekoid (135745) <dadinportland@@@yahoo...com> on Wednesday May 14, 2008 @07:53PM (#23411878) Homepage Journal
    Rosanne Barr? Cool.
  • by JSBiff (87824) on Wednesday May 14, 2008 @07:57PM (#23411938) Journal
    I don't really know much about this device, but let's, for the moment, assume it can't actually hurt anyone, just make them uncomfortable / stun them. Is it really a weapon then?
    • by lymond01 (314120) on Wednesday May 14, 2008 @08:04PM (#23412002)
      I think anything used with intent to harm (and stunning would be "harm") is defined as a weapon under most U.S. laws. See Ms. Green in the library with the candlestick for more details.

      Not to start a slashwar, but our government has redefined many standard terms in the past 8 years, so a weapon may be classified as anything more destructive than the Death Star. Everything else is called "French Toast" and is clearly non-threatening in the greater scheme of things.
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Bloodoflethe (1058166)
        Freedom toast, mister!
        • by dwater (72834)
          French toast in the US is aweful. I much prefer the UK version. (Ironic enough for you?)

          I wonder what it's like in France, or if they even have it.

          As an Englishman, I was curious about what the US people call 'English muffins'. I'd never had one before I went to the US.
    • by Overzeetop (214511) on Wednesday May 14, 2008 @08:05PM (#23412024) Journal
      I'd say if it has the ability to disable a person (even temporarily) or cause significant/severe discomfort at the press of a button, it could be a weapon. Tasers, rubber bullets, and tear gas don't kill (many) people either.

      That's not to say it can't be used for legitimate purposes; there are just many people who just don't trust China. Honestly, there are a lot of countries who might not be trusted with such equipment. The US is not necessarily excluded from that list, but it's mostly determined by whether you approve or disapprove of the policies of the people behind the trigger.
    • by nbert (785663)
      The use of loudspeakers was very common at the end of WWII ("Stop fighting, you will just prolong the suffering of your people", "we won't hurt you if you put down your weapons", and sometimes just very annoying sounds for hours). I guess nobody considered this a weapon back then. What's new about this device is that it can target people selectively. As long as it does not physically stun people for minutes it's not a weapon, but part of the propaganda machinery.
    • by adisakp (705706)
      I don't really know much about this device, but let's, for the moment, assume it can't actually hurt anyone, just make them uncomfortable / stun them. Is it really a weapon then?

      Let's say someone created a device that could cause an infinite amount of pain for as long as they wanted but didn't cause any actual physical harm (in most cases). Would that be considered a weapon?

      Heck you don't even need a theoretical device to state your case. Take waterboarding [wikipedia.org] which is merely a method to simulate the fe
      • by rubycodez (864176)
        an instrument of torture is a weapon, marks or not. Waterboarding *is* drowning, not a simulation at all, and can cause the same physical damage that being held under water can do, including death.
      • sorry, i accidently modded you off topic, in stead of interesting. im posting this to undo my mistake.
    • by Kingrames (858416)
      You could make that argument for most weapons that have killed people.
  • by joggle (594025) on Wednesday May 14, 2008 @07:58PM (#23411948) Homepage Journal
    I don't know if it's such a bad thing to provide China with safe crowd control devices. If China wants some form of crowd control they will use whatever they have, including deadly force (such as back in Tienanmen Square).

    Giving them something safe to use is probably a good idea and could save peoples' lives.

    I think the counterargument would be something to the effect that the US shouldn't help a government such as China's to maintain control over its people. It's a difficult moral dilemma to be sure. However, China is not Burma and by and large the population is content with their government.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by JordanL (886154)
      Alot of Germans were content with the Third Riech... a bit of perspective perhaps.
    • by Red Flayer (890720) on Wednesday May 14, 2008 @08:22PM (#23412186) Journal

      However, China is not Burma and by and large the population is content with their government.
      Without getting into a big discussion about the philosophy of government, I just want to point out that China has a long cultural history of obedience to authority. My understanding is that the common perception is that there is nothing to be done about government, so the best thing to do is to either bend it to your needs (via bribe, etc) or just accept it as an immoveable constraint.

      The reason I bring this up is that lack of protest is not necessarily a sign of contentment with government. And without access to specific kinds of foreign media, there is no way for the Chinese public to become aware that government is, in fact, a mutable thing.

      IOW, most Chinese are content with their government because they know nothing different or because they have been indoctrinated with propaganda about their government. By the way, this applies to a lot of people all over the world, including Americans [1].

      And here come the kneejerk flamebait mods. Sorry if I've offended some of the super-patriots haunting the halls of Slashdot, but we are all products of what is around us -- and being taught from age 5 that your country is the best is hard to overcome.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Gideon Fubar (833343)
        I applaud you for actually making reasonable sense of the situation. Far too much energy is spent around here on people reinforcing their own beliefs by pointing out the flaws in others'.

        If i had the points, I would totally mod you up for your insight.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by maxume (22995)
        So in China, the government extols the virtues of urinating in your soup while they urinate in your soup, but in the US, the government extols the virtues of urine free soup while urinating in your soup?
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by augnober (836111)

        Without getting into a big discussion about the philosophy of government, I just want to point out that China has a long cultural history of obedience to authority. My understanding is that the common perception is that there is nothing to be done about government, so the best thing to do is to either bend it to your needs (via bribe, etc) or just accept it as an immoveable constraint.

        That is true. You can sense this in other ways in China too - not just in relation to governance. For example, if someone butts in front of everyone in line, you generally see very little (usually none at all) reaction or discontent from the people behind. If you call out the injustice of the person butting ahead, people look at you like you're crazy and your friend, confused and embarrassed, tries to calm you down. Once you've lived there for a while, these relatively minor transgressions slip your mi

      • Not only this, China IS undergoing an incredible economical boom. The country, and nearly everyone in it is getting richer. There are opportunities for almost anyone to try to get in on the money. The Chinese government regardless of its social liberty has become significantly more economically more 'free' than in the past. It's kind of hard to argue against a government that A) you have been taught is the best government in the world and B) Is making your richer.
      • by dwater (72834)

        By the way, this applies to a lot of people all over the world, including Americans [1].

        This is a curious statement.

        It pretty much makes anyone's opinion irrelevant since everyone's position would be baised in favour of their own government.

        Most westerners are anti-Chinese purely because of the anti-Communist upbringing they've had, and this is reinforced by the media. It is very difficult to overcome this conditioning.

        On the other hand, it's been interesting watching the change in the BBC's stance - it has become much more neutral over the last few weeks. Previously, I had read extremely bla

        • I don't think it makes people's opinions irrelevant -- but I do think that opinions need to be considered in the context of who is expressing them, and what their background is. And I think that in order to have true understanding of a topic (for me, on a personal level) it's important to try to consider the source of my knowledge & feelings on the topic.

          It's the phrase 'know thyself' applied to understanding of external concepts.

          Oh, and the [1] was because the last paragraph was going to be a footno
      • by joggle (594025)

        I just want to point out that China has a long cultural history of obedience to authority
        I understand this. However, how does this conflict with my previous post? The Chinese government apparently want a non-lethal crowd control device. The alternative is that they use whatever they have. Either way, they will break up riots and groups of people either safely or not. It seems to me giving them the option to use a safe device for this purpose is a good idea.
        • It doesn't directly contradict it, why is why I wanted to bring up the point... yes, the Chinese want non-lethal crowd control... but your reasoning in saying that there is no problem with us providing it is based upon the statement that the Chinese seem to be content with their government. What I inferred is that because the Chinese people are OK with their government, then it can't be that bad -- and there is then no moral issue with supplying that government with tools to suppress dissent.

          I believe thi
      • IOW, most Chinese are content with their government because they know nothing different or because they have been indoctrinated with propaganda about their government. By the way, this applies to a lot of people all over the world, including Americans [1].

        Propaganda or not, most Americans are certainly not content with their government. Both the president and congress have been polling under 50 percent approval for a long time now. RealClearPolitics has congressional disapproval at 71 percent.

    • by soren100 (63191) on Wednesday May 14, 2008 @09:14PM (#23412644)

      I don't know if it's such a bad thing to provide China with safe crowd control devices
      It depends on what you all "safe". These weapons sound like the dream of a totalitarian state. For example, all they have to do for a truly vicious weapon is to turn up the volume on the sound weapon, instantly rendering the victims totally and permanently deaf. Then you have no gory pictures to upset anyone with, and you render the victims pretty much incapable of organizing and protesting for quite a while.

      The "pain ray" the US has developed is pretty well suited for a totalitarian government as well. It leaves no marks, so you could also just round up anyone at a protest and subject them to microwave beams that activate the pain nerves in the skin just enough to be able to cause agonizing pain without leaving any marks . You have the double bonus of driving your victims insane from the pain without any ugly wounds to photograph and get people upset.

      However, China is not Burma and by and large the population is content with their government.
      China has a very effective ability to stifle dissent -- Tiananmen square is an excellent example. How are you going to know if anyone is unhappy if everyone is too scared to say anything? When you surf the internet in China they love to have little animated policemen popping up on your screen to remind you that you are being watched. People are scared enough there already of doing the wrong thing -- imagine what would happen if deaf people started showing up as not-so-subtle reminders of what happens to people who complain?

      Imagine the scenario of one man in a truck with a sound weapon shutting down a whole protest without any ugly pictures to shock anyone into action, with no effective recourse by the protesters. This kind of thing is the way that your typical 'nightmare dystopian science fiction movie' would become reality. Once the people are unable to complain or protest, how nice would the government have to be?
      • by joggle (594025)
        What leads you to believe that the Chinese need a way to torture people without leaving any marks? If they want to do that I'm sure there's numerous ways they can achieve that (although I don't think they would care since they have such a tight control on the media).

        All this device would allow them to do is to do crowd control (mainly breaking up crowds and riots). Compared to using bullets I do not see the downside and I'd like to hear your alternative. All forms of non-lethal crowd control involves some s
      • by dwater (72834)

        China has a very effective ability to stifle dissent -- Tiananmen square is an excellent example.
        How, exactly, is that an excellent example?
      • by rcw-home (122017)

        How are you going to know if anyone is unhappy if everyone is too scared to say anything?

        If you abuse your power long enough and recklessly enough, then the game changes. It's no longer about the destroyed lives that you've heard about - it's about your own life having been destroyed. It's no longer about who you know has been through the same, it's about who you guess hasn't. It's no longer about what you have to gain, it's about having nothing to lose.

        At that point, the ante has been upped - if the gov

    • by MrSteveSD (801820)

      I think the counterargument would be something to the effect that the US shouldn't help a government such as China's to maintain control over its people.


      The same can be said far more strongly against US weapons sales to the Saudi government. It's one of the most oppressive regimes in the world (even Iran looks good by comparison). If there's ever some kind of democratic uprising there, the government will no doubt use these US supplied weapons against it's own people.
  • Why bother? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by urcreepyneighbor (1171755) on Wednesday May 14, 2008 @07:59PM (#23411960)
    Unless the PRC plans on using this sometime in the immediate future, why wouldn't they simply develop this technology locally?

    AFAIK, the principles behind the technology aren't all that complicated.
    • by l2718 (514756)
      Why bother? Because it's cheaper to buy an existing product than to reinvent the wheel. Later they may decide to reverse-engineer, but even then it's cheaper to buy the blueprints.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        Because it's cheaper to buy an existing product than to reinvent the wheel.

        Obviously. However, as I said, there appears to be a time factor here that isn't being publicly stated. I'm sure the Chinese government could easily produce their very own "sound weapon" if they so desired.

        Later they may decide to reverse-engineer,

        Later? Ha! I'm sure they're ordering enough to deploy and RE.

        I would be absolutely shocked if the PRC doesn't already have existing teams whose sole function is to RE stuff.

        but even then it's cheaper to buy the blueprints.

        Why buy when you can steal? ;)

  • by hansamurai (907719) <hansamurai@gmail.com> on Wednesday May 14, 2008 @08:08PM (#23412038) Homepage Journal
    Did anyone else read the headline as China is buying Sound Weapons directed at the US? I felt bad for people living in California for a moment.
  • New from Ronco! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Wednesday May 14, 2008 @08:21PM (#23412164)
    If it's not a weapon, so that these laws do not apply... then I want one!

    But really, this Chinese thing looks like a mess waiting to happen. More reason to hate / distrust the United States government... for both Americans and Chinese.
    • Distrust the US government for letting a business do something there's no law against. Right.
      • Re:New from Ronco! (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Wednesday May 14, 2008 @11:44PM (#23413802)
        Not at all. You have missed part of the point. Distrust the government for selling something that they claim is "not a weapon", but which was designed for civilian crowd control and which they will not allow their own citizens to own.

        Are you going to tell me that you do NOT see the hypocrisy in that??
  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9DVvrcFi4M0 [youtube.com]

    We were working secretly for the military
    Our experiment in sound was nearly ready to begin
    We only know in theory what we are doing
    Music made for pleasure
    Music made to thrill
    It was music we were making here until
    But they told us all they wanted was a sound
    That could kill someone
    From a distance
    So we go ahead
    And the meters are over in the red
    It's a mistake in the making
    From the painful cries of mothers to the terrifying scream
    We recorded it and I put it into our machin
  • likey it will be seen being used at the Olympics on free Tibet protesters.
  • by Ihmhi (1206036) <i_have_mental_health_issues@yahoo.com> on Wednesday May 14, 2008 @09:03PM (#23412554)

    We've been selling them directed sound weapons ever since we've been exporting Britney Spears CDs...

  • Omission? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by sethstorm (512897) * on Wednesday May 14, 2008 @09:49PM (#23412928) Homepage
    Then by all means close that loophole up for national security.
  • Will they call them Weirding Modules?

The first version always gets thrown away.

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