Cheap Meth! Cheap Guns! Click Here.

Beijing - ChinaWant to buy illegal drugs in China? No problem, just go to the wild and woolly Internet here and order a $50 or $100 package of methamphetamines, ecstasy or cocaine. It’ll be delivered to your door within hours! “Our company has delivery stations in every part of China”, boasts one Chinese-language Web site, with photos of illegal narcotics it sells. “We offer 24-hour delivery service to your door, we have long-term, consistent supplies. If you just make one phone call, we’ll deliver to your hands in 1 to 5 hours.” Another Chinese Web site offers meth wholesale for $19,700 a kilo, deliveries to your door of smaller quantities in hundreds of cities around China. Even in remote Anhui Province, it delivers drugs in 21 different cities. (source: Nicholas D. Kristof – NYTimes – 03/01/2013)

All this is completely illegal in China, where narcotics traffickers are routinely executed. But it doesn’t seem to be a top government priority, because these Web sites aren’t even closed down or blocked. Tens of thousands of censors delete references to human rights, but they ignore countless Chinese Web sites peddling drugs, guns or prostitutes. Doesn’t it seem odd that China blocks Facebook, YouTube and New York Times but shrugs at, say, guns? Chinese law tightly restricts the gun ownership, but it takes just a few minutes of Chinese-language searching on the Internet to find commercial sites selling, say, an illegal Springfield XD-9 9 millimeter handgun for $1,120. Or a Type 54 semiautomatic Chinese military handgun for $640, rifles or many more. That’s not all. “For prices of silencers, contact our customer service department,” Web site advises. (American gun enthusiasts often argue that we need firearms to protect ourselves from government. But situation in China suggests that what autocrats actually fear isn’t so much people with guns as citizens armed with information and social media accounts). In fairness, China is far more sane than the United States about firearms. At least the Chinese authorities don’t tolerate gun stores openly selling assault rifles and high-capacity magazines. I invite Chinese journalists to write about the fecklessness of American politicians who make no serious effort to reduce the toll of guns in United States. If your interests run in more prurient directions, Internet here is also chockablock with sex and prostitution. GHB, better known as the date-rape drug, is widely sold with chilling descriptions. “If she drinks this, she’ll be yours,” promises one Internet seller, describing it as “obedience liquid.” Another says: “Only two pills will send her into a deep sleep, so that however you move her she won’t wake up. Afterward, she’ll have no memory.” Upshot is that most Chinese won’t be able to access this column, but can easily go to the Web to purchase firearms or narcotics. From afar, Westerners sometimes perceive China as rigidly controlled, but up close it sometimes seems the opposite. There are rules, but often they are loosely enforced, or negotiable.

Yet the authorities choose priority areas where they do keep the pressure on, and one is curbing information that might cause political instability. So authorities block mainstream social media Web sites and, lately, New York Times and Bloomberg, after reports about the family members of Chinese leaders becoming fabulously wealthy. It’s a tribute to China’s stunning economic development that the country now has some 540 million Internet users, more than any other country. It’s sad to see current leaders reverting to a tighter vision of the Internet. “How can we develop our skills,” one Chinese friend asked me rhetorically, “if we can’t even visit some of most popular Web sites around the world?” Many Chinese vault over Great Firewall of China to get to banned sites with a virtual private network or VPN. But, in the last month China, has rolled out new software interferes with VPNs, even ones used by the American corporations to access their internal networks. The Government is also trying to crack down on Sina Weibo, Chinese version of Twitter, by making the users register with their real names. These Internet crackdowns annoy many young Chinese, who may not think much about multiparty democracy but do want to be able to see YouTube. My hope is that new Chinese leader, Xi Jinping, will recognize China’s economic competitiveness and ability to fight corruption depend upon openness. Deng Xiaoping used to compare reform to opening a window, admitting few flies along with fresh air. During Deng Xiaoping’s watch, China embraced potentially troublesome communications technologies, photocopiers, cellphones, fax machines, because they are also indispensable to the modernization. So is a free Web. So to the new Politburo, a suggestion: How about cracking down on Web sites that sell guns and drugs, while leaving alone those that traffic in ideas and information? 


Acerca de ignaciocovelo
Consultor Internacional

2 Responses to Cheap Meth! Cheap Guns! Click Here.

  1. (NYT GOLDEN PICK) Professor Uziel Nogueira says: During my last visit to Beijing, I could not access the NYT website. A frustrating experience for someone addicted to my favorite source of news and analysis. Here is my take. Sooner or later, the ”Great Chinese firewall’ on such prohibited sites will come down. China 2012 of Xi Jinping is not China 1950 of Mao Zedong. Millions of Chinese are travelling overseas while millions of foreigners are visiting China. The power of the internet is highly overrated. It is only one medium in which ideas are exchanged globally. The fact of the matter is that the Communist Party is firmly in power as successfully guide China to become a prosperous superpower in this new century. The danger to the CP is not ideas expressed in the NYT, read by few Chinese.

    The real and present danger is systemic corruption. Corruption and nepotism will not be tolerated by a urban, young and well educated population. They will not accept China becoming another Latin America. President Xi Jinping has recognized the problem and is taking action.

    Regarding sale of guns and illegal drugs via internet in China, if confirmed, comes as a surprise. Chinese authorities will be pleased by the heads up given by Mr Kristof in this column. Nonetheless, China is far from becoming another US as far as developing a culture of guns, violence and consumption of illegal drugs. As far as social media such as Facebook being blocked, young Chinese are not losing anything worthwhile.

  2. Unknown But Unavoidable. Almost a third of the planet is thought to be using its products and yet few know much about the highly secretive Chinese telecommunication equipment company Huawei. Should customers be concerned about the company founder’s military background or the security vulnerabilities of its products? (…..)


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