IV. Exercising Strict Control over
the Precursor Chemicals
Since the 1980s, transnational smuggling and trafficking of precursor chemicals and of ephedrine have increased rapidly in tandem with the prevalence of the global drug problem and the extended production of chemosynthesized drugs. The Chinese government takes seriously its responsibility to the international community to strictly control these chemicals and ephedrine, in earnest compliance with its duties under international anti-drug conventions.
Laws and regulations on the control of such chemicals have gradually been perfected. In October 1988, the relevant government departments issued a document on the control of exports of acetic oxide, ether and chloroform, which can be used for synthesis of heroin and other narcotic drugs. In January 1993, China exercised control over the export licenses for the 22 precursor chemicals as listed in the UN Convention Against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances, and in June 1996 it also exercised control over the import licenses for these chemicals. In April 1997, China's relevant foreign trade department issued the Interim Regulations on the Control of the Import and Export of Precursor Chemicals, and in December 1999, the Regulations on the Control of the Import and Export of Precursor Chemicals was officially issued. At the same time, local regulations on the overall control of the production, transportation, trading and use of such chemicals were formulated in provinces such as Yunnan and Sichuan that border on the sourcelands of narcotic drugs. At present, the Chinese government is formulating nationwide regulations on the control of such chemicals.
Regulations on the control of ephedrine have steadily been improved. From 1992 to 1998, the relevant government departments issued several regulations on the control of ephedrine. In March 1998, the State Council issued the Notice on Further Strengthening the Control of Ephedrine. The notice stipulates that the production, trading, transportation, use and export of ephedrine shall be subject to special control. In December 1998, the relevant departments jointly issued the Notice on Issues Pertaining to the Strengthened Control of the Export of Ephedrine-typed Products, exercising control over the export of the 12 saline products, semi-finished products, derivatives and single preparations of ephedrine. In June 1999 and May 2000, they issued the Procedures for the Control of Ephedrine and the Regulations on the Control of Transportation Licenses for Ephedrine, which have further improved the rules on the strict control of ephedrine.
The competent departments and law enforcement organs at all levels strictly implement the state's relevant laws and regulations, and continuously strengthen the supervision and control of the production and circulation of precursor chemicals and of ephedrine. The legal production and trading of these chemicals and ephedrine are protected by law, but the illegal buying and selling, trafficking and smuggling of these products shall be severely punished. The border areas and ports of entry and exit of provinces and autonomous regions in southwest, northwest and northeast China have consistently investigated and banned the import of drugs as well as the smuggling abroad of those chemicals and ephedrine in pursuance of their "two-way investigation program."From 1997 to 1999, China cracked 548 cases of illegal buying, selling and smuggling of precursor chemicals and confiscated more than 1,000 tons of illegal chemical products.
In collaboration with UN drug control organs and competent departments of other countries, the relevant departments of China have set up an international system to check the import and export of precursor chemicals. In 1999 alone, China examined 568 such import and export cases, and 35 cases of illicit trading were discovered and curbed. As a result, 3,380 tons of chemical products were withheld from export. From April to December 1999, China discovered six cases of such illegal trading, and withheld 1,160 tons of potassium permanganate from export, during the global drive known as "Purple Action."China joined with more than 20 countries, regions and international organizations, during this campaign to thwart illegal trafficking in potassium permanganate.
Since the 1950s, China has exercised strict control over amphetamines and other psychotropic substances. In view of the fact that criminal activities involving the manufacture and trafficking of methamphetamines have become increasingly rampant in the past few years, Chinese public security organs have launched several campaigns specially against such activities, particularly in the southeast coastal areas of the country. In 1999, the NNCC added the prohibition of drug manufacture to its "simultaneous promotion of three prohibitions"anti-drug principle (simultaneous prohibition of addiction, trafficking and cultivation of drugs), making it the "simultaneous promotion of four prohibitions"principle. Public security authorities across the country have thenceforth intensified their operations against the manufacture and trafficking of methamphetamines and other drug-related crimes, and these operations have been crowned with outstanding success. From 1991 to 1999, China cracked 360 cases involving the production and trafficking of methamphetamines, dealing a heavy blow to such activities.