China’s urban elite embrace ‘rave’ drug culture

Posted by Martyn

I often wish that international newspapers and media organizations would simply speak to long term China expats instead of waiting for the government to announce their latest ‘crackdown’ on the latest scourge on society. They would get their stories a lot more quickly.

For example, this disturbing report about the increased use of designer drugs among young Chinese urban professionals. I have personally known about the use of Ecstasy, Ketamine and Ice in China for several years.

A “people’s war” on narcotics in China has turned into a campaign against designer drugs after police found a surge in usage of ecstasy, ketamine and methamphetamine, or ice, among urban professionals.

In a shift that may be down to a booming economy and the growing influence of globalised culture, Chinese authorities said this week the focus of their anti-drugs campaigns has widened from disadvantaged social groups – such as minorities, prostitutes and the unemployed – to affluent white-collar workers.

According to the domestic media, the public security ministry launched a campaign against “new drugs” – synthetic stimulants and hallucinogenic chemicals – which are popular in nightclubs and karaoke bars in the fast-growing cities such as Shanghai and Chongqing.

Previously, the only media reports concerning drug use in China have focussed on heroin, particularly in Yunan Province, opposite Burma’s infamous Golden Triangle and Xinj1ang, opposite Afghanistan. To a lesser extent, also cannabis, mainly entering China via Xinj1ang.

China’s frequent use of the death penalty for drug dealers has not stopped the massive growth of drugs where large and easy profits can be had.

China’s official figure of 790,000 drug users in 2004 is laughable. As this report suggests, a figure in the tens of millions would be more accurate. For instance, more than 80% of prostitutes in Guangzhou are addicted to injecting heroin, 400 yuan per gramme at today’s prices.

Ice, Ketamine and Ecstasy first became available in Mainland China via Hong Kong several years ago. Now, all of these designer drugs are widely available in China’s cities, usually up-market nightclubs. Working together with Hong Kong triad societies, China’s criminal gangs oversee the importation and distribution. However, the prices are high, 600 yuan is not unusual for a single hit of any of the three party drugs. This, however, does not seem to effect popularity.

The Discussion: 23 Comments

Maybe the CCP will be smart and tolerate de facto legalization.

September 22, 2005 @ 11:39 am | Comment

Huh, pot (weak pot, but still) used to grow wild EVERYWHERE in Beijing. We found bushes of it at Beihai Park and the Temple of Heaven…

I’m not sayin’ what I did with it.

September 22, 2005 @ 1:00 pm | Comment

Pot grows naturally around Beijing, but I wouldn’t smoke that stuff. Make a rope, yes. On that note ectasy seems to grow naturally in China. I have seen it even in the least developed provinces. Maybe they need it more there. Beijing should add ectasy to their open the west campaign, I am sure the plan would be well received, though water consumption might be problematic.

September 22, 2005 @ 6:08 pm | Comment

RMB600 – what a rip off! You should be paying RMB 300 for Ecstasy. Ice is cheaper. Coke goes for about 1,000 a gram. Imported hash is RMB200 to 400. Uighur hash is cheaper.

September 22, 2005 @ 8:06 pm | Comment

They’re China prices? They sound like Hong Kong prices to me.

September 22, 2005 @ 8:11 pm | Comment

Where did you get that stat on GZ hookers and heroin use?

September 22, 2005 @ 8:44 pm | Comment

From the girls themselves (a lot of whom I’ve known for all the years I’ve lived here as a lot drink in my local bar) but there’s plenty of similar stuff around on the www.

September 22, 2005 @ 8:50 pm | Comment

maybe lots of party officials take drugs themselves, maybe even free ones.

September 22, 2005 @ 9:06 pm | Comment

Daily linklets 23rd September

How many Maos does it take to change a nation? Mickey Mao – is China being Disney-fied or is Disney being China-fied? The logic and research behind Hong Kong Disneyland. China is targeting Latin America. Kate Moss loses another sponsor. Taiwan’s Li Ao…

September 22, 2005 @ 9:51 pm | Comment

The going rate for E is actually 200 kuai a throw, at least in Beijing. This is still ludicrously overpriced.

Colombian Marching Powder will set you back around 1200 a gramme, if I recall correctly. That’s not as inflated in percentage terms, but it also seems to be the minimum transaction amount, which can be inconvenient.

Not that I know anything about this sort of thing, you understand.

September 22, 2005 @ 11:41 pm | Comment

Actually, you can get charlie for around 1000, as the previous posters says. But then you’re into issues of quality, delivery time, etc.

Not, to reiterate, that I know much about such goings-on and shenanigans.

September 22, 2005 @ 11:43 pm | Comment

Anybody know where I can get some good crack in Shanghai? I want the real cheap stuff. Thanks!

September 23, 2005 @ 12:14 am | Comment

That was just a joke

September 23, 2005 @ 12:14 am | Comment

Ecstacy grows naturally? It’s a synthetic, lab made drug, no?

September 23, 2005 @ 12:17 am | Comment

It was a joke.

September 23, 2005 @ 12:18 am | Comment

Say no to crack: Wear a belt, damn it!

(Sorry, couldn’t resist….)

September 23, 2005 @ 1:25 am | Comment

I went to a well known club in Shanghai last month and the hostess asked us, within a minute of entering: “you want drink, you want Ecstacy, you want Cocaine, you want girl?

Er, yes on one, no on two through four.

September 23, 2005 @ 1:37 am | Comment

In Khaosiung the bartender asked me if i wanted to buy ecstasy. I was shocked. hasn’t happened in Taipei yet.

September 23, 2005 @ 1:53 am | Comment

Conrad: No to the girl? What has happened to you?

[Note from Richard: Forced to edit; please don’t get this site into trouble by talking about where to buy drugs in Beijing. Thanks.]

September 23, 2005 @ 6:51 am | Comment

I think that’s something you’ll have to sniff out for yourself straightman – without the help of TPD. Anyway, one doesn’t have to be Sherlock Holmes I’m sure, escpecially if you’re a foreigner.

September 23, 2005 @ 7:14 am | Comment

Conrad probably went into the club with a couple of busty Indos – three would have been a crowd.

September 23, 2005 @ 7:14 am | Comment

“In Khaosiung the bartender asked me if i wanted to buy ecstasy. I was shocked. hasn’t happened in Taipei yet.”

Richard, tsk tsk tsk….that’s because you haven’t been asking the bartender 😉

September 23, 2005 @ 8:58 am | Comment

I don’t appreciate the title man. “Rave” culture. That’s ignorant stereotypical crap. I go to raves and yet I stay sober n clean. The local international schools in shanghai hold raves too, does that mean that the school promotes drug use to 15-18 year olds? come on. Rave is not a drug culture. It’s like going to a discoteque.

January 10, 2006 @ 5:16 am | Comment

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