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Serious Anti-drug Challenges

A senior anti-drugs official told a press conference in Beijing yesterday that, though a lot has been achieved, China has witnessed an increase in both international supply of and domestic demand for illicit drugs.


“Drug abuse is becoming more and more serious throughout the country, with more supply channels and use,” said Yang Fengrui, vice director with the office of the National Narcotics Control Commission.


He listed the key challenges faced as follows:


l         More drugs from the Golden Triangle.


According to a UN report, over 47,000 hectares of the Golden Triangle were planted with opium poppy in 2004, with an annual opium output of over 400 tons. Most of this was smuggled into China. Meanwhile, methamphetamine (also known as ice or crystal meth) trafficking has also increased in recent years.


In addition, the country’s northwest, northeast and southeast ports have seen an increased inflow of drugs in recent years. Last November, Guangzhou customs seized 469.4 kilograms of ecstasy pills in one action.


l         Production and sale of methamphetamine and ecstasy pills are widespread in the coastal regions of southeastern China.


In 2004, the authorities cracked a total number of 1,121 smuggling, production, trafficking and trade cases, a year-on-year increase of 77.4 percent. They seized 2.7 tons of methamphetamine, down 52.9 percent on the previous year, of which 1.2 tons were from the Golden Triangle.


As the police strengthen vigilance in southeast coastal areas, drug production is shifting inland and overseas. China is seeing more drug production and trafficking cases involving the Philippines, Indonesia, South Korea and Japan.


l         Export and import of chemicals used to make narcotics.


At present, the government is working on Management Measures on Chemical Products Used to Produce Narcotics and Regulations on Narcotic and Psychotropic Drug Management. But ingredients are still traded through illicit channels, stimulated by domestic and overseas demand as well as huge profits.


In 2004, the government prevented 3,513 tons of exports by engaging in international investigations.


l         More drug users using more kinds of drugs.


By the end of 2004, the country had 791,000 registered drug users, up 6.8 percent on the previous year. Of these, 679,000 were heroin users, accounting for 85.5 percent.


Registered users who were under 35 years old, farmers and unemployed accounted for 70, 30, and 45 percent of the total respectively.


The number of opium and heroin users is stable, but recreational users of ecstasy and ketamine are increasing. Use of cannabis, methamphetamine, pethidine and caffeine pills is widespread in some areas.


Related: 33,975 Deaths Reported for Drug Addiction 


              24,000 Drug Cases Cracked in First Four Months


              Battles Won on Drugs, But War Rages On  


(China.org.cn by Wang Zhiyong, May 27, 2005)


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