High-tech lookout keeps eye on Chinese border

Many border areas in China have deployed an integrated frontier monitoring system consisting of advanced radars and unmanned aircraft, a designer of the system said.

"Our system has been adopted by border defence units in Xinjiang, Tibet, Yunnan and many other regions to curb illegal border crossings and drug trafficking," said Mao Weichen of the Southwestern Institute of Technology and Physics in Chengdu, Sichuan province. "Users also include some airports and military bases."

The institute is a subsidiary of China North Industries Group Corp, the country's major manufacturer of land weapons.

Mao said the system integrates electro-optical devices, radars, communications equipment, command-and-control instruments and tools for image analysis. Cooperating with patrol teams, it is capable of performing round-the-clock, all-weather surveillance of illegal cross-border movements.

People trying to cross the border will be detected by the system, which then automatically notifies soldiers, he said, adding that the system can also be used in coastal policing if it is equipped with sea-scanning radar.

"Compared with traditional border monitoring networks that mainly depend on video surveillance, our system has a wider coverage and more deterrence thanks to the use of drones and acoustic weapons," he said.

Recent years have seen a surge in China in cross-border crimes, especially illegal crossings and drug trafficking, Xinhua News Agency reported in October.

According to earlier reports, border defence units in Xinjiang, Guangdong and Heilongjiang have been using frontier monitoring systems for several years, but most of them are closed-circuit televisions that have limited detection capabilities.

"Given that cross-border crimes are frequent, it no longer works to depend on our soldiers to patrol and catch the bad guys on foot. Therefore the border defence authorities are turning their eyes on high-tech apparatus," said a border defence expert in Beijing who asked not to be identified.