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Chinese Fight Growing Addiction With Draconian Penalties


June 1993

Chinese law enforcement now admits to having 250,000 opium and heroin addicts, and claim that harsh penalties are successful in curtailing drug trafficking (Huang Zu Yan, "Campaign Against Drugs Becomes High Priority," Criminal Justice International, May-June 1993, Vol. 9 No. 3, p. 3).

Writing for an international criminal justice magazine, Chinese criminologist Huang Zu Yan cited the 250,000 figure and said that 8,000 drug criminals were arrested in 1991, with 5,285 receiving criminal sanctions. Of those punished as criminals, 866 were sentenced to death or received life imprisonment. From January through September 1992 5,452 drug traffickers were arrested and 4,696 of them punished, with 885 receiving death or life imprisonment. In Yunnan and Guangdong provinces, writes Yan, "a number of drug-related criminals were sentenced to death in public trials and drugs were burned publicly to show the determination of the government."

There are more than 250 drug treatment centers in China, which received 41,000 drug addicts in 1991 and 46,000 in 1992. Currently, about 20,000 people are undergoing treatment.

Yan wrote the article shortly after returning from the Ministry of Police Security in China. He is a founding member of the Police Science Society of China, and deputy head of the Ministry of Public Security in the People's Republic of China.