Countries mull drug-control measures

By Zhu Zhe (China Daily)
Updated: 2007-05-23 06:50

China is considering further cooperation with other Greater Mekong subregional countries to eradicate opium poppy cultivation within the notorious Golden Triangle, an official has said.

"Joint efforts have achieved great success and zero poppy cultivation in that region could be the priority for our future drug-control cooperation," Zhang Xinfeng, deputy director of the national narcotics control commission, said.

Zhang was speaking at the 14th Senior Officials Meeting of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Drug Control of the Greater Mekong Subregion held in Beijing yesterday.

More than 50 representatives from Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) attended the meeting.

Zhang quoted a UNODC report saying that poppy cultivation in the Golden Triangle region, which borders Thailand, Myanmar and Laos, fell to 24,160 hectares last year, down 85 percent since 1998. Rubber, tea and other cash crops have been grown as substitutes.

Related readings:
Drug misuse kills 200,000 Chinese a year - doctors
China unveils food, drug safety plan from 2006 to 2010
Former drug watchdog head to go on trial
Shaanxi drug ring seized by police
Yunnan forms first anti-drug social worker group
Police arrest 14 in drug factory
The report also showed that 337 tons of opium produced in the region last year accounted for just 5 percent of the world total. In 1998, one-third of the world's opium came from the area.

Zhang said it was important to sustain this reduction and therefore changes to the current drug-control cooperation were needed to cope with new challenges.

Halting the spread of new drugs such as ice and ketamine, poor management of precursors and chemicals used in drug production and cracking down on drug-related crimes, such as money laundering, were all considered as challenges.

The current MOU cooperation mechanism was established and signed in 1993.

Akira Fujino, a representative of UNODC's regional center for East Asia and the Pacific, said the cooperation had been very successful in information exchange and networking, poppy substitute cultivation, controling amphetamine-type stimulants and drug treatment.

"The countries in this region were the first in the world to demonstrate the usefulness of regional cooperation under an MOU scheme, which has become an example to be replicated by other regions of the world," he said.

Fujino said, however, that continuous adjustments were necessary. Apart from the fight against new drugs and related crimes, he suggested the establishment of a more comprehensive data-collection and reporting system to better control the spread of HIV/AIDS through intravenous drug use.

(China Daily 05/23/2007 page3)

Top China News  
Today's Top News  
Most Commented/Read Stories in 48 Hours