POTUS Donald Trump Says China Has No Drug Problem

Donald Trump
United States President Donald Trump said China has no drug problems. But, data shows a different story, experts say the country has indeed drug problems. (Photo: Wikimedia)

United States President Donald Trump recently said China has no drug problems, suggesting they should also implement harsh drug-regulation tactics, like the death penalty, to eliminate drug problems. But, experts and data show the country also has such problems.

Trump previously spoke in the White House Rose Garden and talked about on-going substance abuse in the U.S, TIME reported. He shared the conversation he had with Chinese leader Xi Jinping, wherein he reportedly told him China has no drug problems since it uses the death penalty to punish drug dealers.

However, according to experts, the country does have drug problems. Ann Fordham, executive director of the International Drug Policy Consortium, said Trump's remark is disturbing as he claims China didn't have drug problems because of the death penalty. She said the administration should check for facts first before claiming, particularly when advocating the use of the death penalty for drug offenses.

As per the report from China's National Narcotics Control Commission in 2017, there were about 2.51 million drug users in China as of late 2016 - which is a year-over-year increase of almost 7 percent. The Brookings Institution report also revealed the number of officially registered drug users in the country increased each year between 1998 and 2016.

Fordham said the actual number of drug users in China is much higher. The country sees synthetic drugs as a particular problem, both domestically and in exportation. Even harsh punishments Trump claimed in his speech seemed not to be working as intended.

For instance, Chinese State Councilor Zhao Kezhi advocated last year for a more intense crack-down on drug-related crime. Despite that, the Brookings report noted drug problems in China didn't seem to have subsided much even with relentless and draconian countermeasures. Fordham said she doesn't like to talk about whether or not the death penalty is an effective enforcement mechanism since there's no evidence such an approach works.

It is also dangerous to promote the death penalty in the U.S. or abroad, said Hannah Hetzer, senior international policy manager at the Drug Policy Alliance. She said Trump is just supporting repressive policies and implementing the death penalty isn't the right answer to eliminate drug problems.

Instead, Hetzer believes that any country looking to eliminate drug use should have access to addiction treatment. She said people who have problems linked to drug use should have access to affordable treatments almost immediately.

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