More than 560,000 illegal guns have been confiscated so far during the Strike Hard crackdown on crime, but the illicit trade in firearms is still thriving, according to government statistics. The seizure amounted to nearly one-fifth of all civilian guns - a total of 2.8 million - registered in the country. In Beijing alone, about 10,000 people are known to possess guns. Despite the crackdown, possession of illegal firearms remained a hugh problem, a government report said, with a rising stock of guns available on the black market. It was hard to estimate the exact number of illegal guns but the stock could be huge, the report said. The seriousness of the problem was reflected in the growing number, and brutality, of gun-related crimes. There were more than 3,600 cases in 1994, of which 200 took place in Beijing. The national figure grew by 19.5 per cent last year. Adding to the problem were factories found to be illegally manufacturing banned military guns. China is due to implement its first gun control law next month. Under the legislation, all licensed gun owners will have to submit their weapons to the Public Security Department for re-registration before the new law comes into effect. The new regulations stipulate that illegally manufacturing and selling guns, and the stealing of guns and ammunition, is punishable by a maximum of seven years in jail. Illegal possession of ammunition will carry a two-year sentence. Hunters and game-keepers will be allowed to have guns under the new law, but will be banned from carrying their weapons outside restricted areas.