[中文标题]中国不为人知的弱点 － 毒品和腐败
[原文标题]China's Secret Weakness
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一些专家认为，社会的整体繁荣通常不可避免地伴随有吸毒趋势的上升，并且引用美国作为实例。当然，中国已经加入了全球市场中，其生活标准迅速上升，其对成瘾性药物的消费也急剧地上升。澳大利亚研究人员Susan Trevaskes曾经出版过一本有关中国预防犯罪的书《Policing Serious Crime in China》，他估计阿富汗和巴基斯坦生产的海洛因中有40％进入中国，老挝和缅甸生产的毒品也有差不多的比例进入中国。Trevaskes还揭露出，中国自己也在生产摇头丸和其它毒品的原料，供出口和本土使用。
With China's rapidly expanding economy and growing power at sea and in the air, some commentators have taken the view that it's not a question of whether but how soon China will replace the U.S. as the world's leading superpower.
This is nonsense. So long as America retains its freedom and thus its unique powers of innovation, it will continue to lead.
Moreover, China has secret weaknesses. Its most serious: gambling and drug addiction. China's new prosperity is already producing a rapid expansion of the country's international gambling class, not to mention an appreciable increase in the number of drug addicts.
Though India was known as the "Mother of Opium" and during the 18th century produced large quantities of it, nearly all of India's opium was exported to foreign markets rather than consumed at home. The Chinese love of opium seems to have originated on a large scale with its 18th-century population explosion, when China grew from about 150 million in 1700 to 450 million in 1850. By that time China had become the world's largest consumer of opium.
This was highly convenient for the West. Although the West bought large quantities of silk and tea from China, the Chinese spurned Western goods, regarding foreign imports as immoral. As the authorities did everything in their power to restrict imports, China ran huge trade surpluses with the West. But then Western governments and trading firms discovered the Chinese appetite for opium and began to export it in large quantities through Canton. By the 1830s China's export surplus had turned into a growing deficit.
Alarmed by the loss of silver and the spread of addiction, especially among the ruling class, the imperial court in Peking sought to ban opium and prevent Western ships from bringing it in. The West--in the name of free trade--responded with naval force. Thus began the Opium Wars, which were fought mainly by Britain, to keep China's ports open.
Some experts believe that general prosperity in a society is always and inevitably accompanied by a comparable increase in drug-taking and cite the U.S. as an example. Certainly, since China entered the world market and its living standards began to rise swiftly, its consumption of addictive drugs has risen alarmingly. Australian researcher Susan Trevaskes, who has just published a book on Chinese crime prevention, Policing Serious Crime in China (Routledge, $125), estimates that 40% of the heroin produced in Afghanistan and Pakistan and a similar percentage of the drugs coming from Laos and Burma now go to China. Trevaskes also reveals that China itself manufactures "precursor chemicals" for ecstasy and other substances, for export and domestic use.
Drug use on a large scale attracts organized crime and corruption. Under opium's economic impact government corruption in China became more oppressive, which eventually led to peasant revolts, followed by the government's savage attempts at suppressing them by burning villages. The catchphrase describing this policy: "strengthening the walls and clearing the countryside." The imperial authorities then created "strategic villages" and forced peasants to live in them.
Since the 1980s the Chinese government has conducted similar campaigns, dubbed "Strike Hard," to put down organized crime and corruption. During the last quarter of the 20th century an enormous number of "criminals" were executed. Trevaskes puts the figure at between 2,500 and 15,000 a year and calculates that the total number may have been as high as 250,000.
Such ferocious campaigns to put down crime ended in failure and were abandoned, especially since it seems they often led to the spread of corruption--at all levels of officialdom.
If, as seems likely, the expansion of the Chinese economy and the rise in living standards lead to further increases in the use of heroin and other drugs, how will Chinese authorities deal with the concurrent rise in organized crime?
Meanwhile, more and more Chinese have more and more disposable income--and a significant proportion of it is going to drugs.