The National Narcotics Control Commission (NNCC) said last month that central government plans to raise funding for drug rehabilitation centers over the next three years to increase capacity.
Drug users attend compulsory drug rehabilitation in centers managed by police departments, and can be kept in them for one or two years.
There were 791,000 registered drug users at the end of 2004, up 6.8 percent on the previous year, but there are only about 140,000 places in rehab centers and no special arrangements for people with HIV.
In addition, drug-related crimes make up a large proportion of the country's total, especially street robberies. In Wuzhou City of Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region in southern China, more than half of street crimes were reportedly conducted by drug users, according to the Public Security Ministry.
"Existing rehabilitation centers cannot meet actual demand," said Li Yuanzheng, deputy director of the NNCC office.
Central government has allocated 100 million yuan (US$12.1 million) to expand rehab centers until 2008, and local governments have planned to source millions of yuan for the same purpose.
In south China's Yunnan Province, the heroin trade is fueled by imports from the neighboring "Golden Triangle" of Myanmar, Laos and northern Thailand. The Kunming Drug Rehab Center, the largest of its kind in the country, has 4,500 beds, but accommodates 5,300. With extra financial support from the provincial government, some 7,000 new beds will be added, 2,000 of them specifically for people with HIV.
Dali City Drug Rehab Center in Yunnan will also increase its capacity from 1,024 to 2,524 by the end of this year, according to the provincial narcotics control commission.
Similar expansion projects are underway in many provinces where services also face increasing strains.
"We expect the situation to improve remarkably in the next three years," NNCC sources said.
The government launched a "people's war" against drug use and trafficking this year in a bid to check sources of drugs, curb drug crimes and reduce use.
In 2004, there were 273,000 registered drug users in compulsory drug rehabilitation and about 88,000 former drug users had stopped using for more than three years.
(Xinhua News Agency June 27, 2005)