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Nations Join Hands to Tackle Drug Issue
China is striving to join forces with a select group of Southeast Asian countries to combat drug trafficking and narcotic-related crime in the region.

The call came after reports claimed drug addiction, especially the abuse of amphetamine-type stimulants (ATS), has become even more rampant in the region in recent years.

Senior officials from China, Laos, Thailand, Myanmar, Cambodia and Viet Nam, as well as the United Nations Drug Control Program (UNDCP), made the announcement when attending a sub-regional drug control meeting yesterday in Beijing.

"Traditional drugs, such as opium, heroin, cocaine and marijuana, are still rampant in the region," said Bai Jingfu, vice-minister of public security, at the opening of the three-day meeting. "At the same time, new types of amphetamine narcotics, like ice and ecstasy, are spreading rapidly."

The meeting stems from a 1993 Memorandum of Understanding on Drug Control (MOU) by China, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and the UNDCP; while Cambodia and Viet Nam became signatory countries in 1995.

Ever-increasing drug abuse is integrated with money laundering and organized crimes, threatening human beings and the whole society, Bai said.

The worsening trend towards ATS is both a global and regional phenomenon that challenges conventional policies and programs for drug demand reduction in countries of Southeast Asia, said a UNDCP report.

To tackle the problem, all parties involved in the region have boosted communications, understanding and co-operation under the MOU mechanism, noted Bai.

Thanks to the implementation of scores of UNDCP projects during the past few years, the countries involved have improved their capacity in drug-control, including law enforcement, demand reduction and alternative development, said the vice-minister.

The Chinese Government focused on improving co-operation under the MOU mechanism, and performed its duty honestly and played its part in this regard, he added.

During the meeting, MOU member countries reported their drug-control measures and achievements, and discussed future co-operation under the mechanism.

(China Daily May 21, 2002)

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