China has seen a rapid rise in drug addiction, particularly heroin, in its southern Yunnan province where opium from Burma’s volatile Shan state is pouring into across the border. China shares a 2000 km border with Burma, the world’s second largest source of opium, after Afghanistan. China's status in drug trafficking changed since the 1980s, when the country for the first time opened its borders to trade and tourism after 40 years of isolation. As trade with Southeast Asian countries and elsewhere increased, so did the flow of illicit drugs into, and through China. There are over 900,000 registered drug addicts in China, but the Government recognizes that the actual number of users is far higher. Some unofficial estimates range as high as 12 million drug addicts. Of the registered drug addicts, 83.7 percent are male and 73.9 percent are under the age of 35. In 2001, intravenous heroin users accounted for 70.9 percent of the confirmed 22,000 HIV and AIDS cases.
|Heroin Users on the streets of Ruili, Yunnan Province|
All photos with the exception of the last by photographer Lu Guang © / HFP / ZUMA from here
The last photo is from here