China is seeing an increasing number of drug crimes related to the Golden Crescent as the amount of heroin smuggled from the area to China climbed "noticeably" in recent years, an anti-drug official said in Beijing on Friday.
"China saw a limited number of drug crimes related to the Golden Crescent, which overlaps Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan, in the 13 years from 1991 to 2004," said Li Xianhui, an official in charge of anti-drug operations with the Ministry of Public Security.
"But the situation has changed a lot now," he said. "The Golden Crescent is not just a potential threat to our country like a few years ago. It has done real damage."
Afghanistan is the world's largest opium poppy and marijuana producer, with the capacity to meet more than 20 percent of world demand, according to Li. A total of 7,700 tones of opium were produced in the country in 2008 alone.
The amount of heroin smuggled from the Golden Crescent to China also climbed "noticeably" in recent years, Li said.
China, with more than 1.12 million registered addicts, busted 244 drug crimes related to the Golden Crescent last year. Those cases involved 281 suspects and 386 kilograms of heroin.
"The numbers are larger than those from 2001 to 2004 combined," he said, calling the increase "unprecedented."
Most of the Golden Crescent heroin was smuggled into Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin, Guangzhou and Shenzhen by air, Li said. In most cases, he said, Guangzhou was the final destination of the illegal drug trade. "In many cases, drugs were smuggled by young Chinese women," he added.
"Drug-related terrorism and organized violence have become intertwined in regions with serious drug problems such as Afghanistan and Latin America. They have posed a threat to regional safety," he said.
However, Li said that the Golden Triangle, which encompasses Myanmar, Laos, Vietnam and Thailand, remained China's largest overseas drug source and posed the greatest threat to the country.
More than 80 percent of the heroin consumed in China came from the Golden Triangle, he said.