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Drugs in China

The Chinese Drug Scene: The Opium Wars

Perhaps to the west, the drug that would first spring to mind when we think of China is opium. This drug, said to have inspired so many writers to create weird and wonderful works, wreaked havoc through 18th and 19th century China.

In an attempt to initiate trade with a China which had a lot of things they wanted and wanted nothing they had, the East India Company started importing vast amounts of opium into China.

Thousands of Chinese who couldn’t afford to, became addicted. People of all classes, from the richest officials down to the poorest peasants, wasted vast amounts of money and resources in feeding their addiction, an addiction fed by increased imports of opium grown in India by the British.

This culminated in two Opium Wars, both won by the European sides, and resulting in the humiliation of China. Many Chinese vowed never again to let drugs destroy society and bring about further embarrassment.

Drugs in China after 1949

Since the emergence of Communist China in 1949, it has been claimed by many that the country has been relatively drug free.

People in large cities were too busy worrying about their own interests and careers, and the poor too busy worrying about their own survival, to even consider the use of drugs.

Of course in some areas of China so-called less-dangerous drugs, such as marijuana, have been commonly used for leisure or for medical purposes.

Both in Tibet and in the southern province of Yunnan marijuana was quite sociably acceptable – though this maybe changing in more recent years due to the stricter control of the government. Indeed in western Sichuan province and even in Xinjiang province the use of drugs is not unheard of.

However, on the whole, China can be considered to have been relatively drug free – up until now…..

The Modern Chinese Drug Scene

Although still a million miles away from the extent of usage in Western Countries, drug abuse in China is on the increase.

Along with the economic development and the one-child policy a generation of rich spoilt children, looking for an outlet for pressure, or a way to rebel against their parents, are indulging in all kinds of drugs ranging from ecstasy to cocaine and even heroin abuse.

More interesting than this though is that these are not the biggest drug users in China. Drugs have become a new form of status symbol for the affluent businessmen in China.

It is fairly common for groups of friends to book out a room in a club and order in vast quantities of drugs, largely cocaine and ecstasy, and consume them in private before proceeding into the nightclub proper.

Although this cannot be said to be a widespread phenomenon, especially not in Beijing, it is on the increase.

It has become common enough, however, for an epicenter for this kind of behaviour to have been established. Businessmen now refer to the southern capital of Hubei Province, Wuhan as Haidu
(海都literally “sea capital”), meaning the clubbing capital.

Drug use is on the rise – this much is for certain. As people have more and more expendable income and feel more and more pressure from their jobs they are increasingly looking for new forms of escapism.

As China continues to develop it will be interesting to see how their government deals with this growing social issue.

Please don’t take drugs in China

Beijing Made Easy does not condone the use of drugs. It also recommends that even if you use drugs for recreational purposes in your own country you should not attempt to do so in China. Drug laws are harsh and heavily imposed. It is best not to take the risk.

(However…..if you wish to do so here is a rough price list to go by for the most common drugs)

Cocaine – can be bought for anything from 700 yuan to about 1000 yuan a gram – depending on your relationship with the seller.

Ecstasy – may be around 200 yuan a pill. The price was going down at the time of writing.

Marijuana – this is reasonably cheap and be wary of anything more expensive than what you’d pay at home.

Heroin – expect to pay a lot. We don’t know and to be honest don’t care. If you are going to China to do this you are going to China for the wrong reasons.

Recommended Chinese culture articles:

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Chinese Religion: How To Tell Chinese Temples Apart, Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism

Beijing Arts: Chinese Opera, Acrobatics, Tai Chi, Chinese Gardens

Beijing Society: Er Nai, Lucky Numbers, Chinese Etiquette, Drugs in China

Chinese History: Chairman Mao Zedong, Eunuchs, Chinese Emperors, Ancient History Timeline, Concubines, 20th Century Timeline


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