Beijing has taken elaborate precautions against smog and terrorists ahead of its imminent APEC meeting, including a ban on Halloween costumes on the city’s subway. Xinhua reports the development of a new anti-drone laser system that could bolster protection of future events:
According to Yi [Jinsong, a manager with the Academy’s China Jiuyuan Hi-Tech Equipment Corp.], small-scale, unmanned drones are relatively cheap and easy to use, which makes them a likely choice for terrorists. In addition, concerns have been raised over drones engaged in unlicensed mapping activities and the affect this could have on military and civil aerial activities.
The new laser system, which will either be installed or transported in vehicles, is expected to play a key role in ensuring security during major events in urban areas, the statement said, adding that a recent test saw the machine successfully shoot down more than 30 drones – a 100 percent success rate. [Source]
Chinese authorities would not be alone in contemplating the threat posed by drone terrorism, but the new system would have other potential uses. Besides blasting down illegal cake deliverybots, it could prevent the capture of eye-catching aerial footage of protests like that recently seen from Hong Kong. Security preparations for previous events have also shown a strong focus on blocking subversive airborne messages: as the 18th Party Congress loomed in 2012, pigeon enthusiasts were told to keep their birds locked up, while real-name registration requirements were imposed on the sale of remote-controlled toy airplanes. Taxi drivers were told to take detours around sensitive areas and remove window handles to stop passengers releasing balloons marked with slogans or hurling out “ping-pong balls bearing reactionary messages.”
Even before the introduction of lasers, there were signs that measures were escalating: according to People’s Daily’s English-language Twitter feed, 10,000 pigeons were subjected to an “anal security check for suspicious objects” ahead of this year’s National Day.