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A new Chinese gun tracking technology comes a decade after serial killer Zhou Kehua murdered a PLA soldier and stole his automatic rifle before going on a bank-robbing spree that left 11 people dead. Zhou was China’s most wanted fugitive until he was shot dead by police in 2012.

China has strict gun control regulations banning civilians from owning firearms. Only the military, police and some specific personnel such as armed transport crews can legally possess firearms.

Now, China has developed a satellite positioning chip to pinpoint the location of firearms and trigger an alert when guns are taken out of designated areas. Beijing Bailineng Technology, the developer of the technology, said that the chips used China’s BeiDou Navigation Satellite System to send real-time location data back to a control center. Authorized handlers of the weapons would also be issued with BeiDou watches to send alerts if they are separated from their firearm, with the aim of stopping the weapons falling into the hands of criminals.

“At the moment the accuracy of positioning is about 3 meters,” Ge Chunsheng, a company spokesman, said. “The chips are built in inside, can’t be seen from the outside and very difficult to remove … without damaging the gun.” Ge said the chips were too big for pistols at the moment and could only be fitted in larger weapons.

The system has already been in use in various People’s Liberation Army units in Beijing and Nanjing, he said.

Previous gun-tracking systems relied on the US-owned and operated GPS. But China hopes the BeiDou system, set to be completed in 2020, will be able to replace GPS in China and compete with it globally.

BeiDou was developed for military use but also has civilian applications. It began to cover parts of China in 2000, and launched a basic global service in December 2018. The Chinese government has ordered all of its buses, heavy trucks and fishing boats to install BeiDou technology for real-time monitoring and tracking, according to scmp.com.