China Focus: Rebirth of China's meth village

Source: Xinhua| 2019-06-26 18:30:42|Editor: Liangyu
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GUANGZHOU, June 26 (Xinhua) -- Lush fruit trees, neat streets and sparkling fish ponds, Boshe, a small coastal village in south China, is not different from any other villages except ubiquitous anti-drug slogans and wanted posters which remind people of its notorious past.

The village of 14,000 in Guangdong Province was once dubbed the "No. 1 Drugs Village," with more than a fifth of households linked to drug production and trafficking.

Lufeng, a city that administers Boshe, used to supply around one-third of the nation's crystal meth, and Boshe was the most notorious area in the city, recalled Lin Weidong, a police officer with the public security bureau of Lufeng.

On December 29, 2013, in the pitch dark, over 3,000 police officers raided the village, seizing 3 tonnes of crystal meth and capturing more than 180 suspects.

The Thunder, a drama series based on the massive crackdown of illegal drugs in Boshe, premiered on Chinese online entertainment platform iQiyi this year, which put the village under the spotlight once again.

"Many tourists have visited our village. Perhaps we can develop the tourism industry to offer extra sources of incomes for villagers," said Cai Longqiu, the Party chief of Boshe Village, who is trying to help the village walk out of the shadows.

Memories of the old days remain starkly vivid for many villagers. Mounds of drug-related debris blocked the drainage system, contaminating water and soil, killing livestock, and increasing cancer risks of local residents.

When Cai was appointed Party chief of the village, he was fully aware that the journey ahead would be long and arduous.

"The water was polluted, land became barren, and people left their homes," Cai said. "Without strengthened crackdown on drugs, the village would move towards death."

The government has gone to all lengths to fight the battle against drugs. Police nationwide seized 67.9 tonnes of drugs in 109,600 drug-related cases last year, arresting a total of 137,400 suspects, said a report published by the China National Narcotics Control Commission.

In December 2018, Lufeng was removed from the list of China's major drug areas. The past "meth village" Boshe has embarked on a journey to build an alternative future.

On the wall of the office of Cai Xiaosheng, principal of a primary school in Jiaxi township, hangs timetables of 13 classes. Every Monday morning, all students attend a course related to the prevention and harm of drugs.

The school has installed brand-new walls, toilets and a playground. The number of students has grown from only 300 in 2013 to the current 800. A dozen young teachers settled down here, and the quality of education has been improved.

"Children are our future and hope," he said ahead of the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, which falls on Wednesday.

Mounds of drug-related debris have been replaced by lush lychee trees on both sides of the street, and the seaside meth lab shacks replaced with sparkling fish and shrimp ponds.

A newly built park has been set up on a hill in the village. Stone benches and fitness equipment have been installed. At 5 p.m. each day, street lamps light up a new red-brick path.

"The park has become an entertainment choice for local villagers," said resident Cai Xiong. After dinner, people dance, take a walk, and do other exercises in the park.

However, Cai Longqiu did not feel much relief. He hopes to attract more investment projects to the village, transforming the local agricultural industry and helping villagers make more money.

He had contacted dozens of firms but the efforts turned out to be in vain most of the times.

In January, the village cooperated with Guangzhou Pharmaceutical Holdings Limited to set up a Chinese herbal medicine base, providing over 100 jobs for villagers with an income of 130 yuan (around 19 U.S. dollars) per person per day.

"It is a good start," Cai said. "I want to introduce more firms to the village, making people here lead a stable and happy life."