Opium cultivation in Southeast Asia’s main poppy-growing countries has more than doubled over the past six years driven largely by rising heroin demand in China and despite recent efforts by regional governments to eradicate the crop, the United Nations’ narcotics office said in a report released Wednesday. . . .The number of opiate users in East Asia—particularly China—and the Pacific now accounts for a quarter of the world’s total use, up from a fifth between 2000 and 2005. . . .While estimates of the total number of heroin users in China—including unregistered users—are harder to gauge, the total number of injecting drug users is believed to be about 2.5 million, according to the U.N.
Consider that the penalty for trafficking more than 50 grams of heroin into China is death. That so much of the drug gets in anyway, and that China is witnessing a huge increase in heroin users, reflects the loosening of Communist Party control over daily life, and the impact of corruption on what was once a very tight police state.