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Officials of the Narcotics Control Bureau of the Ministry of Public Security of China Talk about China's Drug Control

On the morning of July 14, 2004, the International Press Center of the Ministry of Affairs of China invited Deputy Secretary General of China's National Narcotics Control Commission (NNCC) and Director-General of the Narcotics Control Bureau of the Ministry of Public Security Yang Fengrui to brief journalists from home and abroad and press officers of foreign embassies in China on China's drug situation as well as the drug-control measures taken, effects achieved and next-stage efforts to be made by the Chinese government. Deputy Director-General of the Information Department of Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China Liu Jianchao chaired the briefing, which is as follows.

Deputy Director-General Liu Jianchao: Today, we are very pleased to have Deputy Secretary General of China's National Narcotics Control Commission and Director-General of the Narcotics Control Bureau of the Ministry of Public Security Yang Fengrui to brief us on China's drug control and take your questions.

Director-General Yang Fengrui: Good morning! First of all, I would like to express appreciation to friends from the press for your interest in China's drug control and at the same time I would also like to extend my gratitude to the International Press Center of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China for holding this briefing, which gives me the opportunity to be here with you. Today on behalf of China's National Narcotics Control Commission and the Ministry of Public Security, I will give you a briefing on China's efforts in drug control. Since the text of my speech has been distributed to you, I will briefly explain the following three issues. First, China's drug situation. Second, China's efforts in drug control in recent years. Third, the drug control programs for the next stage.

First, I will talk about the drug situation faced by China. Due to the rampancy of drugs worldwide, China's drug situation remains stern, which can be seen in the following four aspects. The first prominent problem is that drugs from foreign countries are "entering China through various channels and permeating our country via different routes". The most serious damage to our country has been done by drugs from the "Golden Triangle", from where some new types of drugs are beginning to flow into China in addition to the great influx of the conventional drug, i.e. heroin. The area for drug cultivation in the Golden Crescent is expanding and some drugs from there are also flowing into China, which has posed even greater realistic and potential threats to our country. The second most serious problem is that the crimes of making and trafficking phenylpropylamine narcotics such as crystal methamphetamine (commonly known as "ice'') and ecstasy are much serious in the southeast coastal areas of China and have constituted a new drug problem. The crimes related to new-type drugs have evolved from its very inception with the permeation and influence of foreign drug-trafficking groups, and with a more obvious trend of internationalization, some drugs manufactured and trafficked in China have entered the international consumer market. The third severe problem is that the influx of chemical precursors into illegal channels has undergone new changes. A small part of the chemicals for drug production in the Golden Triangle are coming from China, while most of them are from other countries. Some cases indicate that China's chemical precursors have flowed into Europe for the manufacture of new-type drugs. The fourth outstanding problem is the ever-increasing number of drug users in China and the diversification of drugs they use. China's registered drug users over the years total 1.05 million, among whom there are 750, 000 consuming heroin. While the conventional drug, heroin, is still yet to be effectively controlled, the spread and growth of new-type phenylpropylamine drugs is also rapid. In entertainment facilities of some large and medium-sized cities, the phenomenon that youngsters consume new-type phenylpropylamine drugs is still common. The fifth serious problem is that drugs are bringing increasingly severe damage to the society, triggering a large number of criminal cases, public security problems and the spread of HIV/AIDS, and affected social stability and public security. The above-mentioned five aspects constitute the stern situation posed by China's drug problems.

Next, I would like to brief you on the second issue, i.e. the measures taken and effects achieved by China in drug control. The main measures have been taken in the following four areas. First, China's law enforcement departments for drug control have maintained the momentum of strict combat and high pressure and have scored remarkable achievements in fighting against drug-related crimes. Over the years, China's law enforcement agencies for drug control have cracked cases on a regular basis to crack down on drug-related crimes and have often organized special fights against drugs, such as the combat against the entry of drugs from foreign countries and trans-regional drug trafficking and the fight against the manufacture and trafficking of ice in the southeast coastal areas, the choking of narcotics sources and other special operations. From 1998 to 2003, China's law enforcement departments for drug control cleared up over 500, 000 cases related to drug crimes and seized 51 tons of heroin, 52 tons of ice, 14.8 tons of opium and 1, 412 tons of chemical precursors. The effects are remarkable. Second, relentless efforts have been made nationwide to conduct education on drug prevention, so as to enhance the citizens' capacity to prevent and abstain from drugs. The education on drug prevention, which is carried out in various forms and taking youngsters and high-risk groups as priorities, has been strengthened and scored good results. Third, great efforts have been made to intensify smoking prohibition and drug abstention, establish drug-free communities and help drug consumers to abstain from drugs and turn over a new leaf in their life. Fourth, we have stepped up efforts to boost international cooperation in drug control and keep expanding areas for collaboration in this regard. For example, the area around the Golden Triangle is the East Asia Sub-region. With the advocacy of the United Nations International Drug Control Programme (UNIDCP), the six countries involving seven parties in this sub-region have conducted active and effective cooperation, especially the collaboration we have carried out with Myanmar's police force in intelligence exchanges, law enforcement cooperation, personnel training and development of alternative medicine therapies. We have also conducted a great deal of cooperation with neighboring countries in the Golden Crescent. Besides that, we signed a number of agreements on drug control cooperation with other member sates of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and conducted productive cooperation with them. In addition, we carried out intelligence exchanges and law enforcement cooperation with the US, Canada, Australia, Japan, the ROK, the Philippines, and Malaysia and successfully cracked some cases related to transnational drug trafficking together with these countries. I think these four aspects can generally reflect what we have done.

Third, I would like to introduce some main measures the Chinese government will take in the future to strengthen drug control. The Chinese government is committed to drug control. At a time when faced up with the current stern drug situation, the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and the State Council are giving even higher priority to work in this area. On April 15th of this year, President Hu Jintao chaired the meeting of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party to explore work related to China's drug control. At the meeting the State Council approved the 2004-2008 Drug Control Plan delivered by China's National Narcotics Control Commission (NNCC), and the CPC Central Committee and the State Council decided to hold a national meeting on drug control to deploy the work in the next five years. On June 20th, the NNCC held a national meeting on drug control in Kunming, Yunnan, at which Mr. Luo Gan gave important instructions and Mr. Zhou Yongkang delivered the work report, mapping out the work in the next five years. During the next five years, China will center its drug control tightly on the following three major targets. First, we should resolutely choke the drug sources. Second, we should firmly eradicate the damage brought by drugs. Third, we should decisively put a stop to the growth of new drug users in a bid to create a favorable social environment for China's economic development and people's well-off life.

The main measures for the next five years should be taken in the following five areas. First, we should strictly combat drug-related crimes and resolutely choke the drug sources. Greater efforts should be made to cut off the sources of foreign as well as home-made drugs and the influx of chemical precursors into illegal channels. Second, we should make unremitting efforts to conduct smoking prohibition and drug abstention, establish drug-free communities and firmly curb the damage brought by drug use. Such work can be divided into the following four layers. Firstly, to conduct surveys and findings on drug users; secondly, to help drug users cut off from drugs; thirdly, to help with the physical recovery of drug users; fourthly, to help drug consumers to mix again with the society and start a new life. Third, efforts should be stepped up in education on drug prevention to choke the growth of new drug users. We should try to do a good job in anti-drug education that is centered on the whole society, the youngsters and high-risk groups respectively. Prevention education is a fundamental strategy for eradicating drugs and we will make a success in drug control so long as the anti-drug awareness of the people is enhanced. We will combine the education on drug prevention targeted on the whole society with that targeted on the youngsters, combine the day-to-day education with that special education on June 26th, the International Anti Drug Day, and combine anti-drug education with education on HIV/AIDS prevention, so as to succeed in drug control. Fourth, efforts should also be enhanced in international cooperation for drug control, including collaboration with the UN's drug-control agencies as well as regional and bilateral cooperation. Fifth, the drug-control input in legislation, law enforcement, scientific research, personnel training and financial resources should be increased to guarantee the success of this cause.

That is all for my briefing. Next, I would like to take your questions.

Q: In China, what are the major reasons for drug taking? What kind of cooperation is there between China and the United States, particularly between relevant Chinese departments and the US FDA? Drug use and AIDS are correlated to each other, then does China has any consideration for needle exchange programs?

A: The reasons for drug taking are basically the same for almost all of the drug addicts all over the world. For example, reasons for drug taking for the large number of drug users in the USA are substantially the same with those of Chinese drug addicts. Many young people take drugs for excitement, some out of curiosity and some has misunderstanding about drugs, thinking that drug use can help lose weight and kill time. Therefore, there are a variety of reasons. However, once they have gone astray, they just can't rid themselves of it, thus destroying their whole lifetime.

China and the United States, particularly the drug enforcement departments of the two countries, have enjoyed very good cooperative relations. The governments of China and the United States signed the bilateral agreement on drug control cooperation in 1987. The joint statement signed by heads of state of the two countries in 1997 also contains elements for drug control cooperation. There have been frequent intelligence exchanges between the drug enforcement departments of the two countries, i.e. the Narcotics Control Bureau of the Ministry of Public Security of China and the Drug Enforcement Administration of the Department of Justice of the United States, and the two sides held intelligence exchange meetings jointly and cooperated in investigating some cases. For example, in May 2003, the police of the two countries jointly uncovered a drug-trafficking criminal group, code-named "125", and seized more than 40kg heroin and captured over 20 drug-traffickers, thus wiping out a transnational drug-trafficking group. This is the most successful case of cooperation between the two countries in drug control. In the process of cracking the case, we received the active cooperation and coordination of the Indian police in destroying the ice manufacturing factory of the group in India.

As for the relations between drug use and AIDS, according to statistics of the health department of our country, there are now 840,000 AIDS contractors. Drug taking is the major channel of AIDS transmission among them and 55.3% acquired AIDS due to intravenous drug use. Accordingly, the Chinese government places a high priority on the prevention and control of AIDS and has borne in mind the relationship between drug control and the prevention and control of AIDS when conducting drug control. We proceed from the approach of identifying a variety of methods to help drug consumers to stop drug taking. At the same time, we are also learning from the successful practices of other countries to carry out need exchange programs and complementary and alternative medicine therapies in some places on a pilot basis.

Q: Compared with European countries, drug enforcement in China is stricter. Chinese police often check singing and dancing premises to prevent young people and teenagers from drug use and also force some drug users to give up drug consumption. In the future, will China take more flexible measures for drug consumption?

A: Drug use in singing and dancing entertainment facilities is a headache for us. The Chinese government has in place corresponding management regulations on entertainment facilities. At the same time, there are also some stipulations in the drug control law, which prohibit drug use and trafficking in entertainment facilities and prohibit managers of such facilities from providing facilitation for drug users. If people report cases of drug use or trafficking in a certain entertainment facility or the public security department finds out such a case there, the public security department will conduct related investigation, educate and punish the boss and punish the drug user according to law. Measures in this regard will be tightened rather than weakened. We will also take other measures, such as conducting education in entertainment facilities to improve the capacity of the owners and the people in this industry to abstain from drugs so that they neigh use nor trade drugs but engage in healthy entertainment activities. These measures are most important.

Q: Could you please tell us the situation of drug smuggling from the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) to China? I am interested in knowing the situation of drug trafficking in China by foreigners. Recently 10 Japanese people are prosecuted because of engaging in drug trafficking in China. Have similar things occurred to people from other countries? How many drug rehabilitation centers are there in China at present? Are there any foreigners in the centers?

A: There are indeed cases of drug trafficking from the DPRK to China. However, since there are more than 100,000 drug trafficking cases in China each year with only several are related to the DPRK, the proportion is very small. Most of the drugs that bring harm to China are from the Golden Triangle.

The foreign drug-traffickers that we have captured in recent years are from Japan, the Republic of Korea (ROK), Nepal and some other countries. There are indeed some cases of foreigners engaging in drug trafficking in China, but not many. The judicial departments and the people's courts of China will punish these foreigners according to law. For drug trafficking activities, relevant laws will be applied to ascertain the criminal responsibilities, mainly taking into consideration the facts, evidence, circumstances of the crimes and the harm brought by drug trafficking. Consideration will also be given to whether there are circumstances that require stricter or more lenient sentencing for the defendants or reduction of sentencing. Then the cases will be judged according to relevant provisions of law. All the defendants are treated equally. Foreigners arrested because of suspicion of engaging in drug trafficking will apply the same legal principles as Chinese nationals. All men are equal before law. It is definitely unacceptable for some people to enjoy privileges or be looked down upon just because of their citizenship.

Currently there are 583 coercive drug rehabilitation centers in China, which house over 110,000 beds and where 250,000 people receive drug rehabilitation treatment each year. People in the centers are mainly Chinese. There are also some foreigners but not many. Some foreigners are there because they used drugs in China and are willing to receive drug rehabilitation in China. So we sent them there. Some foreigners heard that the work of drug rehabilitation centers in China is very effective, so they sent their children to China for drug abstention and we admitted them. However, these cases are not many. The earliest, most effective and largest drug rehabilitation center in China is the one in Kunming, Yunnan. At present 4,000 people are receiving drug rehabilitation there. People who want to give up drug use there will first spend some time stopping drug use coercively. Then most of the time they will be under drug rehabilitation program. This is a combination of coercive drug abstention and rehabilitation through labor. After physiologically abstained from drugs, psychological treatment, medical treatment and rehabilitation through labor are applied to the abstainers until he has completely abstained from drugs. Otherwise the abstainers will not be allowed to go back to society. Many foreigners, including some heads of state, have visited the center. If foreign journalists are interested, we also welcome you to visit the center in Kunming, Yunnan.

Q: In China the number of people who have abstained from drugs has exceeded the number of new drug users. Does than mean that you are getting the upper hand in this battle against drugs? China often sentences some ringleaders of drug traffickers to death. Could you disclose the number of drug traffickers sentenced to death in recent years?

A: The issue of drugs is an international one; therefore the work of drug control is highly complicated and formidable. Drug control is a systematic project for society. Therefore it is hard to say that we have won the battle. However, our work of drug control has scored some pleasing achievements. With many years' efforts, the growth of the number of people taking heroin is now slower. Between 1992 and 1997, the growth rate of the number of drug users registered nationwide was 30% year on year. Between 1998 and 2002, the figure was 13% year on year, with the growth rate in 2003 even lower, standing at 5%. This shows that the growth rate is being lowered down every year.

Currently drug-related crimes are internationally accepted as severe criminal crimes and should be penalized by law. Laws of China on combating drug-related crimes are very stern, which include provisions for death penalty. Since the harm brought to society by drugs is very serious, drug-trafficking means killing. So the Chinese people agree to the practice of imposing capital punishment on flagitious drug traffickers, who they think deserve the punishment. Each year there are always some drug traffickers put to death in Yunnan and some sentenced to death in other places. Since I am not responsible for these affairs, I am not informed about the specific figures.

Q: In China ice is mainly manufactured in the Provinces of Guangdong and Fujian. Are there a large amount of drugs flowing from Guangdong into Hong Kong? Do the two places have any cooperation plan for jointly combating drug trafficking cross the two different customs territories? The work of some non-governmental drug rehabilitation centers in Hong Kong is very effective. Could you please give us some information on how mainland drug rehabilitation centers are learning from those in Hong Kong?

A: It can be said that activities of ice processing in Guangdong and Fujian are very serious and some of the ice will no doubt flow into Hong Kong. However, there isn't any specific statistics with regard to the figures. The mainland and Hong Kong have maintained very good cooperative relations in drug control, particularly between the NNCC and the Standing Committee on Drug Control of the Hong Kong government as well as between Guangdong and Hong Kong police. The two sides have conducted very good cooperation in intelligence exchanges, enforcement cooperation, drug abstention, preventive education and personnel training. Since Hong Kong is close to Shenzhen and other places of Guangdong, there are a lot of activities of drug trafficking cross the two different customs territories. The earliest ice maker in the mainland is a person from Hong Kong, Li Qiuping, who is also known as "ice queen". The very first case of ice making in the mainland was related to her. The mainland and Hong Kong police have cooperated in many cases to combat drug-related crimes and the cooperation is very productive. The two sides have also conducted a lot of exchanges and cooperation in drug rehabilitation. Both sides have some successful drug rehabilitation centers. In particular, many people from the mainland have visited the centers in Hong Kong that offer methadone maintenance treatment, and are learning from the experience of our Hong Kong colleagues.

Q: Could you please give us some information on drug control cooperation between China and South Asian countries, Pakistan in particular?

A: Since Pakistan is adjacent to Afghanistan and what we are highly concerned with is just the drug issue in the Golden Crescent, particularly in Afghanistan. The governments and police departments of China and Pakistan have maintained productive cooperation in drug control. China and Pakistan signed the memorandum of understanding on drug control cooperation and some other cooperation agreements on combating drug-related crimes in 1996. Over the past years, the two sides have been implementing this cooperation document by conducting intelligence exchanges and often met with each other on international occasions to exchange experience. Currently there isn't any drug-trafficking case involving each other between the two sides, but cooperation and exchanges between the two sides will continue to be strengthened.

Q: A lot of drug trafficking is controlled by organized criminal groups. Could you please tell us where the drug trafficking groups are mainly from, who are controlling them, how many are they and who are the major beneficiaries?

A: Currently there are a lot of transnational drug trafficking cases and many drug trafficking groups or ringleaders are exerting control behind the scenes. We have not found any direct links between Chinese and Germans in drug trafficking. The transnational drug trafficking groups uncovered by China are mainly from Myanmar, because they have links with Hong Kong drug trafficking groups. In addition, there are also some transnational groups from Thailand, the ROK, Australia, the Philippines, Malaysia as well as the U.S. and Canada.

Q: What is the composition of drug users in China? What is the proportion of drug inflow from the Golden Triangle and the Golden Crescent?

A: Drug users in China are featured by several "many". First, many are men, who account for 85% while women account for 15%. Second, many are young people and teenagers, who account for about 72%, with adults accounting for around 17%. Third, many are jobless people or migrant workers from the countryside, who account for over 60% together. Fourth, many do not have much education, with those that have only received junior high school education or even lower education accounting for 80%.

Drugs from the Golden Triangle bring the largest harm to China. Over 95% of heroin seized through investigation or traded on the market are from the Golden Triangle. The proportion of drugs from other places, including the Golden Crescent, adds up to less than 5%.

Deputy Director-General Liu Jianchao: That's all for today's briefing. Thank you!