Date
14 December 2017
Though small in size, the toy crossbow fires a toothpick powerful enough to puncture a soft drink can. Photos: weibo, sina.com
Though small in size, the toy crossbow fires a toothpick powerful enough to puncture a soft drink can. Photos: weibo, sina.com

Chinese ‘Toothpick Crossbow’ toys spark concern in Hong Kong

A new “Toothpick Crossbow” toy in China is causing concern in Hong Kong, with parents of young children calling for an import ban on the products.

The toy crossbows, which fire toothpicks, could cause serious injuries among children, parents say, urging authorities to prohibit the “dangerous” items.

The calls came after reports that the small crossbows were gaining traction in the mainland, with manufacturers targeting school children.

The unusual shooting toy, which is sold at prices ranging from a few dozen yuan to over a hundred yuan apiece, is small in size but is powerful enough to puncture a soft drink can, as a video clip that has gone viral online suggests.

After mainland parents and some local authorities in China raised concerns over the products, two online malls – Taobao.com and JD.com — have ordered merchants to stop selling the potentially dangerous toy, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.

In Macau, the police issued a statement calling on parents to prevent their children from playing with the toy.

Hong Kong police said that although the toy contains no explosive materials, it could still be regarded as an offensive weapon depending on the intent of the users.

The police said they would consult with the Department of Justice if needed and determine if action is warranted.

The Customs and Excise Department, meanwhile, said it has yet to receive any complaints related to the toy.

Many parents took to online forums to voice their concerns about the toothpick crossbows, calling on the government to ban the import of such products..

The toy is believed to have hit the shelves only two weeks ago in China, but it has gained instant popularity. With an effective range of three to 20 meters, a toothpick ejected from the crossbow could easily penetrate an apple, Sing Tao Daily noted.

If the toothpick is swapped for a metal needle, it can crack a plasterboard or a beer bottle if it is fired straight at the object.

Apple Daily quoted Consumer Council chief Gilly Wong Fung-Han as saying that the Customs and Excise Department should proactively follow up on the matter.

The item may be in breach of law and should never be used as a toy for children, she said.

The public should be informed if the toy is already available in Hong Kong, and retailers should be ordered to stop selling the product and recall those that were sold, Wong added.

Under the Firearms and Ammunition Ordinance, possession of firearms and ammunition is subject to a license for possession or a dealer’s license issued by the Hong Kong Police Force.

Crossbows with a draw weight of more than 6 kg are defined as arms under the ordinance.

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