10:26 GMT25 February 2020
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    China has developed a portable laser weapon that can produce an energy beam invisible to the naked eye, but that can cause the "instant carbonization" of human skin and tissues, according to researchers involved in the project.

    Classified as a non-lethal weapon, the ZKZM-500 laser assault rifle can also "burn through clothes in a split second" and even set someone on fire "if the fabric is flammable," researchers from the Xian Institute of Optics and Precision Mechanics told the South China Morning Post.

    The 6.6 pound weapon, which is powered by a rechargeable lithium battery, also has the ability to fire at targets stationed at a distance of 800 meters and can even be mounted on cars, planes and boats.

    When asked about how the person on the receiving end of the weapon would feel, one official told the outlet that "the pain will be beyond endurance."

    Though the ZKZM-500 can reportedly fire off more than 1,000 "shots" before being recharged, each strike lasts no more than two seconds.

    Thanks to the weapon's invisible frequency and the fact that it produces no sound, scientists have suggested that the weapon, which has a similar build to the AK-47, would prove ideal in a hostage situation as it could help disable kidnappers.

    "Nobody will know where the attack came from," an official said. "It will look like an accident."

    According to the publication, researchers involved in the project refused to be named due to the "sensitivity of the project."

    ZKZM Laser, the creator of the weapon, is currently looking to start the firearm's large-scale production, which could fetch some $15,000 per unit. The tech company is owned by the Xian Institute.

    Though there are no specific international agreements that regulate weapons such as the ZKZM-500, the Post did indicate that the 1998 United Nations Protocol on Blinding Laser Weapons prohibits the use of weapons that can cause permanent blindness. With that deal in mind, the Chinese government released a document in June detailing that the non-lethal laser cannot actually kill a living target with a single shot.

    The weapon is expected to be restricted to only Chinese military and police use.


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