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Poppy farmers are a growing problem

[ 2011-03-10 10:27]     字号 [] [] []  
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The illegal cultivation of poppies in the neighboring country of Myanmar has doubled during the past three years and is presenting a growing problem for those protecting China's borders, said a senior police officer from Southwest China's Yunnan province.

Meng Sutie, director of Yunnan's public security department, told China Daily in an exclusive interview that those cultivating the poppies and producing opium try to smuggle most of their drugs across the border. But Meng said the quantity of synthetic drugs being brought into China from Myanmar now exceeds the volume of traditional drugs such as heroin and opium.

"Myanmar now grows about 26,800 hectares of poppies," Meng said this week, while attending the plenary session of the National People's Congress.

The deputy said the estimates were based on information collected by both countries during their long-term efforts to monitor the situation with satellite remote-sensing technology and through on-the-ground research in northern Myanmar.

However, Meng put the recent growth of the poppy harvest into context, pointing out that a joint campaign by both countries saw the area of poppy fields fall from 201,000 hectares in the 1990s to about 13,400 hectares in 2007.

Yunnan province shares a 4,061-km border with Myanmar, Laos and Vietnam. The three neighboring countries, as well as Thailand, comprise the so-called "golden triangle" of poppy cultivation. Chinese police arrest more than 10,000 drug traffickers each year.

Traffickers from Myanmar are said to be major drug suppliers to Yunnan and are thought to be responsible for 80 to 90 percent of the drugs brought into the province, Meng said.

He noted that during the past five years of Sino-Myanmar cooperation, efforts to fight the smuggling of poppy-derived drugs have largely been successful.

However, Meng warned that synthetic drugs were "breaking in with tremendous force."

"New types of synthetic drugs such as methamphetamine and ecstasy surged dramatically to overtake traditional drugs coming into Yunnan," he said.

Police and armed police at one time would seize a few hundred kilograms of synthetic drugs a year but, in 2010, they netted more than 4 tons.

He said the new drugs can be easily synthesized in shabby labs using ingredients that include generic medicines.

According to Wang Hailiang, Party chief of Yunnan's armed police force, 25 officers have died in shootouts with armed drug traffickers during the past five years. In 2010 alone, 28 trafficking cases involved guns.


1. Who is growing poppies illegally?

2. Why are they growing them?

3. How much is being grown in Myanmar?


1. Myanmar.

2. Those cultivating the poppies and producing opium try to smuggle most of their drugs across the border into Yunnan province.

3. Myanmar now grows about 26,800 hectares of poppies. The area of poppy fields fell from 201,000 hectares in the 1990s to about 13,400 hectares in 2007.


(中国日报网英语点津 Helen 编辑)

Poppy farmers are a growing problem

About the broadcaster:

Poppy farmers are a growing problem

Nelly Min is an editor at China Daily with more than 10 years of experience as a newspaper editor and photographer. She has worked at major newspapers in the U.S., including the Los Angeles Times and the Detroit Free Press. She is also fluent in Korean.