Pubdate: Mon, 26 Jun 2000
Source: Nevada Appeal (NV)
Copyright: 2000 Nevada Appeal
Author: John Leicester, Associated Press Writer


BEIJING - China marked U.N. anti-drug day Monday by executing dealers,
torching narcotics and publicly acknowledging the grim inroads drugs
are making among Chinese, particularly the young.

Those executed included three drug traffickers from Taiwan, a Hong
Kong resident, two Shanghai heroin dealers, four dealers in the
northern province of Shaanxi, three farmers in China's drug-afflicted
southwest, and four manufacturers of methamphetamine, the state-run
Xinhua News Agency said.

It carried conflicting accounts on the total number of people put to
death but said the executions made "a clear and compelling statement."

China also executed at least 38 drug traffickers last week.

In its first policy paper on China's drug problems, the government
said Monday that the number of registered drug addicts jumped from
148,000 in 1991 to 681,000 last year. Heroin was the drug of choice
for 71 percent of addicts, and 79 percent were under age 35, according
to the document issued by the State Council, China's Cabinet.

More recent figures have put the number of registered addicts as high
as 800,000, and a senior U.S. drug control official has quoted Chinese
estimates of 3 million to 12 million total drug users, out of China's
estimated 1.25 billion people.

"The drug scourge is becoming more serious with each passing day and
the situation is grim for the anti-drug struggle," the policy paper

Law enforcers "are waging a fierce battle against all drug-related
criminal activities, administering merciless punishment to those involved."

Between 1991 and 1999, China cracked more than 800,000 drug cases,
confiscating almost 40 tons of heroin, 17 tons of opium, 15 tons of
marijuana, and 23 tons of methamphetamine, the paper said. It added
that the 22 tons of drugs seized in 1999 marked a 33 percent rise over
the previous year.

After wiping out widespread opium addiction in the first years of
communist rule, the government was slow to react to a resurgence in
drug use following economic reforms in the 1980s. Only in the past few
years has the government started public awareness campaigns and
appealed for international cooperation.

On Monday, authorities in the southern provinces of Fujian and
Guangdong burned 2Y tons of seized drugs, Xinhua said. In Beijing,
authorities distributed 500,000 anti-drug brochures.

State-run television broadcast a report about young disco-goers using
the drug Ecstasy, known in China as the "head-rocking pill." Stylishly
dressed women were shown shaking their heads violently to techno music.

The policy paper said China treats addicts within its system of 746
compulsory rehabilitation centers and 168 treatment and labor camps -
facilities for hard-core users.

Private treatment centers are also being set up. One model community
outreach program for recovering addicts in Inner Mongolia has brought
the relapse rate down to 30 percent, the policy paper said.

Overall, relapse rates remain high, partly a factor of the poor
employment prospects many former addicts face at a time of rapid
economic reforms.

China lies on a major transit route for the 110 tons of heroin
produced in neighboring Myanmar every year. The policy paper blamed
drugs smuggled from the "Golden Triangle" border region for the surge
in addiction.

It said China has virtually eradicated cultivation of plants such as
opium poppies within its territory and aids Myanmar and Laos with
crop-substitution and tourism-promotion programs to discourage poppy
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