In an effort to counter the rash of knife attacks in Xinjiang Province, the Chinese government has instituted a series of policies that would make Orwell blush. One of the most novel, and topical to TTAK is the requirement that any knife purchased in the Province, even kitchen knives, must be laser engraved with a QR code unique to the purchaser.
In Aksu, we interviewed a salesman at a knife shop that had to spend thousands of dollars on a machine that turns a customer’s ID card data into a QR code and laser-etches it into every knife they sell. pic.twitter.com/T1FMkhdnHR
— Josh Chin 李肇华 (@joshchin) December 19, 2017
In China’s tightly controlled Xinjiang region, home to the mostly Muslim Uighur ethnic group, commonplace purchases from knives to gasoline are strictly controlled with ID checks amid a growing high-tech surveillance push, the Wall Street Journal reports this week.
A knife shop owner in the midwestern city of Aksu told the Journal he had to spend thousands of dollars on a machine that turns every “customer’s ID card number, photo, ethnicity and address,” encodes the data as a QR code and lasers it into the blades of even the kitchen knives they buy. The Aksu policy, which was previously reported by Radio Free Asia, is intended to trace a knife back to its owner in the event it’s used to commit acts of violence.
Like microstamping shell-casings, this is plan is fraught with holes. Knives, like empty brass, can be stolen. It isn’t that hard to grind off laser engraving if you don’t care about making it look nice. Or one could simply go the prison shiv route and make their own edged tool.
This is really about putting the psychological screws to an oppressed population. It is just a visible reminder of who is calling the shots in the ethnically Uighur region.
Then again left unchecked, the Uighurs have been known to stage some pretty spectacular attacks.