Chinese celebrity apologises for meth use amid high-profile nationwide drug crackdown

Chen Wanning is the latest figure from the entertainment industry to be detained as police attempt to tackle China's growing drug problem

PUBLISHED : Friday, 27 June, 2014, 3:51pm
UPDATED : Friday, 27 June, 2014, 6:40pm

Chen Wanning, one of China’s most popular online novelists, admitted he had taken methamphetamine shortly before being detained on Tuesday at his apartment in Beijing, according to a police statement.

More commonly known by the pen name Ning Caishen, Chen expressed remorse and vowed to stop consuming narcotics in the future, Beijing police said.

Chen, who has become a television personality since finding fame online, is one of several Chinese celebrities held in recent months as authorities crack down on drugs.

National broadcaster CCTV aired his admission of drug use on Thursday evening amid a series of well-publicised trials and public burnings of narcotics throughout the country to mark the United Nations international day against drug abuse and illicit trafficking.

Earlier this month, film director Zhang Yuan was detained by railway police at the Beijing South Railway Station after running away from a routine check. Zhang tested positive for methamphetamine and has since been formally detained, Legal Daily reported.

This marked the second criminal detention on drug charges for Zhang, who gained prominence with Beijing Bastards in 1992. Reality show star Li Daimo was also detained in March on charges of drug use.

Listing the entertainers detained for drug use and prostitution offences since March, prominent internet commentator Yao Bo noted that more senior officials – at least 10 – had been placed under investigation in the same period.

“The entertainment circle is still cleaner than officialdom,” she wrote.

President Xi Jinping promised “forceful measures” against the spread of narcotics in comments reported by state media on Thursday. Reports said that the Politburo Standing Committee and the State Council held meetings recently to discuss China’s drug scourge.

China is one of the biggest producers of methamphetamine in the world. The country is following a global trend as it witnesses the rising popularity of synthetic drugs, according to the annual survey by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime released on Thursday.

Police in China confiscated 19.6 tonnes of methamphetamine, 8.6 tonnes of heroin, 4.5 tonnes of marijuana and 1.5 tonnes of opium last year, according to authorities.

Drug consumption has been markedly on the rise in China in recent years. Almost 2.6 million drug users are registered with police in the country as of April. Their number has more than doubled since 2009.

Meanwhile, more than 168,000 people were detained on drug-related charges in the country last year, a 26.8 per cent increase from 2012.

The border regions and urban hubs are most affected by the drug problem, police said.

The southwestern province of Yunnan borders the world’s second-largest poppy-planting region, the Golden Triangle which overlaps Myanmar, Laos and Thailand. Provincial authorities said seizures in Yunnan accounted for about 70 per cent of the methamphetamine intercepted in the country over the last three years.

Yunnan police alone have detained some 56,000 people on drug-related charges in that period and seized some 50 tonnes of narcotics, three times more than in the previous six years combined.

Courts in the Guangxi autonomous region, which borders Vietnam, had handled 236 drug-related cases in the seven days leading up to Wednesday, an all-time record for a week in the administrative division.

Lufeng, a county-level city in Guangdong province known as a centre of synthetic drug production since the 1990s, convicted 50 people on drug-related charges to mark the annual anti-drug day, executing two on Thursday.