CHIANG RAI – China has warned that illicit drugs pose “a significant and growing” threat to the Greater Mekong Sub-region and has called for greater coordination in efforts to tackle the problem.
The warning was issued was issued by a senior official with China’s Ministry of Public Security at a media briefing after a meeting attended by the Mekong states and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime in Beijing on May 29.
Mr Liu Yuejin, deputy permanent secretary general of the ministry’s Narcotics Control Commission, called for more operational cooperation among members of the GMS, which comprises China, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam.
“Illicit drugs undermine development and pose a growing and significant threat to China and our Greater Mekong Sub-region neighbours,” Mr Liu was quoted as saying in a news release issued by the UNODC.
“Greater regional cooperation is important as our countries face enormous pressure from drug trafficking,” said Mr Liu, who pledged significant Chinese support for anti-drug operations and strategies to fight the rise in production, trafficking and use of methamphetamine and opiates in the GMS.
The UNODC regional representative for Southeast Asia and the Pacific, Mr Jeremy Douglas, told the briefing that methamphetamine production had become “the major drug threat in the region”, and that there had also been a significant rebound of opium poppy cultivation in recent years in the Golden Triangle region, where the borders of Myanmar, Laos and Thailand meet.
“The drug problem could deteriorate as regional integration and transportation plans in the Greater Mekong Sub-region and Southeast Asia are implemented,” said Mr Douglas.
He said China, Thailand and other markets for illicit drugs in the region have rising disposable incomes and were being targeted by organised crime.
“Traffickers are able to rapidly adapt smuggling routes in and out of the Golden Triangle in response to market demand and law enforcement patterns,” he said, adding that the overwhelming majority of arrests throughout the region were drug-related.