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Date Posted: 20:31 21/06/2004

China's war on drugs

Almost 200,000 drug dealers have been sentenced in the last five years, but we can still get drugs. Very easily

THE PUBLIC Security Bureau said at the weekend that almost 550,000 drug busts have been made in China in the last five years, leading to a total haul of 51 tons of heroin, 52 tons of ice, and almost 15 tons of opium. They have also eradicated 6,400 mu (427 hectares) of poppies. The police have implemented an 'unstinting strike-hard strategy' against drugs since 1998, they say, arresting 250,000 people and sentencing 196,500 of them.

And the government is indeed striking hard. Only last Friday, a Japanese man was reported to have been sentenced to death in the northeastern city of Shenyang after trying to smuggling drugs back to Osaka.

It doesn't appear to be making much difference, however. Reuters last week reported from the drug zone of Yunnan, in China's fertile southwest, and claimed that the use of heroin was 'rampant' in Kunming, the provincial capital, and that 'even the poorest farmer can afford it'. Interviewing a HIV-infected addict in the region, the reporter suggests that heroin – as a habit - is even cheaper than cigarettes.

And so, with such a massive profit margin, the drugs are inevitably shifted to Shanghai and other decadent urban metropolises. Rumours that the profits are being channelled to al-Qaeda linked members of the East Turkestan liberation movement remain unsubstantiated, but Running Dog is aware of a number of trade routes from Shanghai to the Muslim province of Xinjiang. Illegal activities tend to gather together, which is why many argue that inevitabilities like prostitution and drug abuse should be decriminalized.

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