China: General says smog 'best defence' against US lasers

A man stands in smog with the Forbidden City behind him

A Chinese general says the country's thick smog is its best defence against US laser weapons, it's been reported.

"Laser weapons are most afraid of smog," People's Liberation Army Major-General Zhang Zhaozhong told state-owned CCTV television, according to the South China Morning Post.

"Under conditions where there is no smog, a laser weapon can fire [at a range of] 10km (6 miles)," he said, adding, "When there's smog, it's only 1km. What's the point of making this kind of weapon?"

Gen Zhang has been criticised online by social media users, but says his comments were taken out of context. He was talking about the weakness of the laser gun, not advocating for smog, he says. The general's comments follow reports that the Pentagon is preparing to deploy its first laser weapon aboard the USS Ponce.

Chinese media have suggested elsewhere that there are upsides to pollution. The Global Times newspaper suggested that thick smog could thwart missile attacks and make it harder for foreign countries to carry out reconnaissance missions. And official news agency Xinhua published an article entitled "The Five Surprising Gains from the Smog".

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