Pubdate: Fri, 27 May 2005
Source: Taipei Times, The (Taiwan)
Page: 5
Copyright: 2005 The Taipei Times
Author: Associated Press
Bookmark: (Cannabis)
Bookmark: (Ecstasy)
Bookmark: (Heroin)
Bookmark: (Methamphetamine)


Chinese officials issued an unusual appeal to the public yesterday for
help fighting drug trafficking, acknowledging in a nationally
televised news conference that they have failed to stop surging
narcotics abuse despite repeated crackdowns.

Drug smuggling and the difficulty of fighting it are rising as a
result of globalization and freer trade, the officials said, citing
the seizure this month of 400kg of the party drug ketamine brought in
from India via the Middle East.

"Although we've made a lot of achievements, the spread of drug
problems remains serious," said Yang Fengrui, secretary-general of the
National Narcotics Control Commission. "Heroin use is down in some
areas, but the use of new drugs such as ecstasy, marijuana and others
is increasing."

Communist Party leaders declared a "People's War on Drugs" last month,
Feng said. He appealed to the public to inform on traffickers and to
help addicts reform -- a rare step by a government that usually says
it can handle crime and social problems on its own.

"The situation in the Golden Triangle still does not allow for

"This 'People's War on Drugs' cannot go ahead without the support of
the broad masses," Feng said.

Communist leaders have been increasingly open in recent years about
the spreading use of heroin and other drugs. But even by those
standards, Feng and other officials at the news conference were
strikingly candid about the failure of official efforts to stamp out
narcotics abuse.

"Since the beginning of the 1980s, the problem of drugs has been dealt
with by the government and the party, but it has never been resolved,"
Feng said.

Earlier this year, Chinese police announced that two informers split a
reward of 200,000 yuan (US$24,000) - a huge sum by Chinese standards
- - for a tip that led to the capture of a gang leader accused of
making 14 tons of methamphetamine. Last year, Chinese police arrested
67,000 people on drug charges, seized 10.8 tons of heroin and 2.7 tons
of methamphetamines, according to a report distributed at Feng's news
conference. Some 273,000 people were sent to compulsory drug treatment
centers last year, the report said. They said the number of known
addicts rose 6.8 percent last year to 791,000, including 679,000
heroin users.

Experts say the true figures are much higher. In addition, the report
said, "addicts of new types of drugs such as ecstasy and ketamine,
[used] in entertainment places, are increasing rapidly."

In the case this month, police in the southern province of Guangdong,
which borders Hong Kong, seized ketamine, methamphetamines, and more
than 1.36 tonnes of drug-making chemicals, said Ji Mengyuan, deputy
director of the province's Anti-Narcotics Bureau.

Ji said 22 members of a drug gang led by a Hong Kong resident were
arrested and police seized a drug-making laboratory.

Drug smuggling and manufacturing by gangs with ties to Japan, South
Korea, Indonesia and the Philippines also is growing, Feng said.

Opium use was widespread in China before the 1949 revolution, with as
many as 20 million addicts. The communists stamped it out by the early
1950s, sending addicts to labor camps and executing traffickers. But
heroin use surged after social controls were loosened with the start
of economic reforms in 1979. The heroin trade is fueled by imports
from the "Golden Triangle" of Burma, Laos and northern Thailand that
abuts southern China.

"The situation in the Golden Triangle still does not allow for
optimism," Feng said. 
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake