Heroin? What is this, the 1980s? All of China’s hottest drug addicts are smoking Burmese and North Korea crystal meth, and by ‘hottest drug addicts’ I mean destitute and homeless drug addicts with little to no state support.
Le Monde reports (translated by Worldcrunch):
The Yunnan province in southwestern China, near the border with Burma (Myanmar), was once known for its booming heroin trade. Today, methamphetamines have taken over the market, as synthetic drugs grow more popular in the country.
In 2011, 65% of Chinese addicts were heroin users, down 13% since 2008. According to the National Drug Control Commission, methamphetamine users now make up 23% of addicts, up from 9% in 2008.
These synthetic drugs are mostly used by youths – nearly 70% of users are under 35 – who are trying hard drugs for the first time. Many start with methamphetamines then turn to ecstasy and ketamine – drugs once reserved to the rich customers of Hong Kong clubs and that are now making strides to mainland China.
Not to quibble with Le Monde’s reporting, but it seems very unlikely that Chinese youths are starting with meth, which is extremely addictive and has perhaps the worst reputation of any drug out there (despite Breaking Bad’s best efforts), and then moving on to much softer, comparatively harmless ketamine or ecstasy.
The Shanghai Daily, in a report this month, also equates meth with ecstasy and ketamine because all three are ‘synthetic’ drugs. Both cannabis and poison ivy have leaves, but that doesn’t mean you should smoke poison ivy.
As we reported in September 2012, away from the Burmese border, much of the meth being smoked in China originated in North Korea:
Burma isn’t the only source for drugs. Methamphetamines in northeastern China usually comes from North Korea. It’s unclear whether Korean bingdu is produced by organized crime gangs or if the Korean government is directly involved. “Beijing must have an idea but the issue is too embarrassing. For geopolitical reasons, China supports North Korea on the international stage. It also supports Burma. Either directly or by negligence, these two neighbors supply the “ice” affecting its population,” explains a Chinese researcher.