28 October 2016
A drug addict in Yunnan province smokes heroin. Photo: EPA
A drug addict in Yunnan province smokes heroin. Photo: EPA

Drug abuse kills 49,000, costs US$81 bln a year, China says

China has given its first-ever assessment of the impact of drug abuse, saying it caused annual economic losses of 500 billion yuan (US$80.5 billion) and as many as 49,000 deaths last year.

The country has more than 14 million drug users, Liu Yuejin, assistant minister of public security, told a news conference Wednesday, Reuters reported.

“The direct economic losses caused by drug use in the entire country have hit 500 billion yuan annually,” Liu was quoted as saying.

Drug abuse killed at least 49,000 registered users last year and fueled a rise in crimes such as murder, abduction and rape, he said.

There were more users of synthetic drugs in China than heroin users for the first time last year, an annual report on the drug situation shows.

At the end of last year, China had about 1.2 million users of methamphetamine, up almost 41 percent from a year earlier.

Two major overseas drug sources for China are Southeast Asia’s “Golden Triangle”, where the borders of Myanmar, Thailand and Laos meet, and South Asia’s “Golden Crescent”, which includes Afghanistan and Pakistan, Liu said.

Heroin and methamphetamine are being smuggled into China’s southwestern province of Yunnan and region of Guangxi, which both border Southeast Asia, he said.

To fight the drug scourge, China was strengthening cooperation in law enforcement with Afghanistan, Pakistan, Myanmar and other countries, Liu said.

“We have given them relatively large assistance with the aim of improving the capacity of these countries to combat drug crime and prevent, from the source, more drugs flowing into China,” he said.

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