Freeman Report October-November 2010 - Vol. 10, No. 10-11
November 4, 2010
The narcotics trade has a long history in China, most notoriously during the end of the 19th Century and beginning of the 20th when foreign, primarily British, exports of opium had such a devastating impact. It is estimated that by 1931, 20 percent of the Chinese population was hooked on opiates, with 90 percent of such addicts (72 million) using opium and the rest (10 million) using morphine or heroin. While during the early decades since the 1949 establishment of the People’s Republic of China, abuse of narcotics was largely eradicated, it has increased significantly since the opening up of China and with the increased wealth of the Chinese citizenry. Chinese official figures showed 1,335,920 registered narcotics abusers by the end of 2009, but unofficial estimates run much higher and could be as high as 30 million (approximately 2.2 percent of China’s population). Though this is still much lower than the international average of 3.5 to 5.7 percent of the world population estimated by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNO - DC), the number of users is steadily growing and could easily become a problem of greater magnitude, especially in key areas where the trade and its related problems – such as prostitution, HI V/AI DS, Hepatitis C, and petty crime – have grown rampant.