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China wages “people’s war” on spreading drug abuse

Drug AbuseMay 27, 05

China has launched a people’s war on drug abuse, offering rewards for information on traffickers, a top official said on Thursday, tackling a problem that was wiped out after the Communist Party came to power in 1949.

China, which borders the “Golden Triangle” opium-producing region where the borders of Myanmar, Thailand and Laos meet, has about a million registered addicts and many more who are not registered.

The target of the people’s war, which began last month, included drug manufacturers and trade and the launch of a huge registration and rehabilitation campaign for addicts, Yang Fengrui, deputy director of China’s National Narcotics Control Commission, told a news conference.

“Despite the many achievements of our work, China’s drug situation is still on a trend of developing and spreading,” he said. “It is still grave.” The government would also mobilise ordinary people to report any drug trafficking and drug-related crimes, offering cash rewards as high as 300,000 yuan ($36,250), he said.

Last year, police arrested 67,000 people nationwide and solved 98,000 drug-related cases and involving 10.8 tonnes of heroin and 2.7 tonnes of “ice”, he said.

Yang blamed active cross-border smuggling and a new, more open Chinese society for the increasing drugs trade.

Convicted drug dealers receive harsh punishments, including the death penalty in some cases, and users caught by police are sent to rehabilitation centres where they can serve up to four years.

Yang said China was experimenting with home rehabilitation scheme for addicts, but he emphasised that compulsory rehabilitation and re-education through labour remained the “main channels”.

Traffic of narcotics from neighbouring Afghanistan and the Golden Triangle was rising, while synthetic drugs like ecstasy and “ice” were being produced in large quantities within China’s borders, state media said last month.

Seizures of the party drug ecstasy jumped 800 percent in 2004 to three million pills, and 11 tons of heroin, 13.6 percent more than in 2003, were confiscated last year, it said.

European traders introduced opium to China at the beginning of the 18th century, but it was the British who turned China into a nation of addicts and triggered the first Opium War, which in turn led to the British possession of Hong Kong.

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