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Xinhua Insight: China facing growing drug threat

(Xinhua)    10:45, June 25, 2015

BEIJING, June 24 -- China had 2.95 million registered drug addicts at the end of 2014, but the real number who have used narcotics is thought to exceed 14 million, the Ministry of Public Security said on Wednesday.

That means one of every 100 Chinese may have used drugs, said Liu Yuejin, assistant minister of public security, at a press conference.

Although the spread of traditional drugs such as heroin has been largely curbed, the number of identified synthetic drug addicts has risen sharply to 1.46 million, six times the number in 2008, according to a report on China's drug situation, the first released by the Chinese government.

Synthetic drugs such as methamphetamine are easier to produce than heroin, which needs to be extracted from opium poppies with a long growth cycle, Liu noted.

"Moreover, such synthetic stimulants can better pander to thrill-seeking young people," he added.

The report revealed that people using drugs in China are becoming younger. Among the 480,000 newly identified addicts in 2014, 29,000 were under the age of 18 and around three quarters were under the age of 35.

In the past, drug users were mostly the unemployed, farmers, private business owners and migrant workers. Now the demographic is expanding to include significant numbers of employees of public institutions, freelancers and entertainers, it said.

Drug abuse is doing more harm to society, with annual economic losses of 500 billion yuan (108 billion U.S. dollars). Around 49,000 of the registered drug users in China died in 2014. HIV has infected 3.5 percent of heroin users and 1.4 percent of synthetic drug users, according to the data released by the national drug abuse monitoring center.

Cases of suicide, self-mutilation, drug-driving, attacks on police and violent crime resulting from drug use have also been seen.


A number of Chinese celebrities, mostly actors, were detained by the Beijing police over drug offenses in 2014.

In January, Jaycee Chan, son of kungfu star Jackie Chan, was sentenced to six months in prison and fined 2,000 yuan for allowing others to take drugs in his home.

Some of the disgraced celebrities blamed their drug use on career pressure or the need for inspiration while creating art.

"All these remarks are sophistries and heresies. They are merely those drug users' excuses to seek thrills while living empty lives and lacking moral values," said Liu.


According to the report, the Internet is being used more than ever in drug dealing.

Cyberspace has become a major platform for drug criminals to release sales information of precursor chemicals and new psychoactive substances, broker drug deals and promote drug making processes, said Liu.

The booming logistics industry has become a key channel of drug trafficking. "Online communication, bank payment and logistics delivery has become a new trafficking mode," according to the report

In December 2014, police launched a massive crackdown on Internet-based drug crimes, targeting seven major cases that involved nearly 100 chat groups of Tencent QQ, a Chinese instant messaging service, and about 2,000 QQ accounts. The police seized more than 700 major suspects all over China as well as in Japan, the Republic of Korea and Singapore.

Drug criminals communicate with each other through instant messagers and open online stores to make drug deals, pay through online payment software and deliver drugs in disguise through logistics services.

"Such covert approaches have posed challenges to law enforcement agencies," the report said.


Chinese lawmakers have been promoting stricter punishment for drug-driving, including adding specific entries into the Criminal Law in light of more drug-influenced accidents.

Narcotics seriously affect drivers' coordination and mental condition, and can be more dangerous than drink-driving, said Liu.

He suggested that those caught driving while on drugs should receive heavier penalties than public security detention, which lacks powerful deterrent.

Drug-driving poses severe danger in the street and should be regarded as a crime against public security, Liu said.

A tour-bus driver took methamphetamine before driving and caused the deaths of 14 people and injuries to 20 in an accident on a highway in east China's Jiangsu in 2012.

However, Liu admitted there are still some technical details to be solved, such as evidence obtaining and crime determination, before legislating on drug-driving.

"But I am sure the process will be completed very soon, and drug-driving will be put under the jurisdiction of Criminal Law in very near future," the assistant minister said.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Editor:Jin Chen,Gao Yinan)

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