Mao’s War Against Illegal Drugs

June 25, 2010

From The Opium Monopoly by Ellen N. La Motte, we learn how opium addiction became an epidemic in China. Although The Chinese knew about opium for more than a thousand years, it wasn’t until the Portuguese arrived in the 18th century that  the Chinese used it as a drug by smoking it. Merchants from Britain, France, Portugal, America and other nations became the drug cartels that plagued China into the 20th century.

In 1729, the emperor issued the first anti-opium edict, but the supply of opium flooding China went from 220 chests in 1729 to 70,000 in 1858.

It is estimated that before 1950, as many as 20 million Chinese were addicts. Then Mao had the Red Army execut the drug dealers and forced millions of addicts into compulsory treatment.

Opium growers, who did not want to comply, fled into the Golden Triangle Region of Southeast Asia where many of Chiang Kai-shek’s nationalist troops had gone to escape defeat. Those generals also did business with the CIA, and American soldiers in Vietnam became the new customers. It is estimated that at least 20% of the almost nine million American troops that served in Vietnam became addicted.

China remained free of drugs until Deng Xiaoping declared, “Getting Rich is Glorious” and opened China to world trade. In 2003, it was estimated that China had four million regular drug users even with China’s strict laws concerning illegal drug use.

Sources: Opium and Illegal Drugs in China and How Maoist Revolution Wiped Out Drugs in China

To learn more about Mao’s China, see China’s Great Leap Forward


Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too.

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Three Hundred Years – Part 3 of 5

April 6, 2010

After the Opium Wars, Christian missionaries flooded China. Hong Xiuquan, a failed student of Confucian doctrine, found success after converting to Christianity. Hong claimed that he was the younger brother of Jesus Christ and started the Taiping Rebellion that lasted more than a decade and cost more than twenty million people their lives.

Hong Xiuquan - God's Chinese Son

Hong’s goals were to replace the Ch’ing Dynasty and rid China of Opium. After achieving that goal, he was going to convert China to a Christian nation and he would be the first Christian emperor.

Since the English and French did not want the opium trade stopped, these Christian nations helped the Ch’ing Dynasty defeat the Taipings even though the rebellion was a Christian uprising. I wonder if Liu Xiaobo had this in mind when he said what it would take to change China to be as Hong Kong is today.

See When in Rome, Do as the Romans