By Jingyu Zhang
Northwest Asian Weekly
Several Chinese actors were recently arrested for possession of marijuana. The most famous is probably Jackie Chan’s son, Jaycee Chan. Within a month, 42 different Chinese entertainment companies took action and decided to sign an agreement with the State Administration of Radio Film and Television of China (SARFT). All signees agreed that they will not employ anybody with a history of drug problems.
In addition to this, SARFT also publicly stated that any actor or singer who is confirmed to having a previous drug history will have their production and composition banned in all public channels.
Over the past year, the Chinese government kept reinforcing the restrictions for drug usage. This action drew the public’s attention to factors involving drug usage and its potential results. Parents were concerned about their children who live in the United States, where smoking marijuana is legal in some states, such as Washington, California, and Alaska.
Why is smoking marijuana legal in some countries, but not in China? Marijuana (formally known as cannabis) can also be used for medical purposes. However, it can be argued that only a few people actually use it for medicinal purpose. Many users smoke marijuana for the psychoactive pleasure that it brings. Some argue that marijuana is just another form of cigarette, and that it will actually cause less physical addiction when compared with other common legal cigarettes.
However, the Chinese government has a strict attitude towards drug problems. According to the law, people with possession of over 50 grams of a drug would result in a death penalty—no contest. Among the categories of banned drugs, marijuana is one of them. It is not only the Chinese government that has strict laws on on drugs. Many other Asian countries, including Japan and South Korea, also have strict restrictions on drugs.
The fight against drugs has a long history in China. In 1800, the Chinese economy represented 50 percent of the world’s total, which is about more than twice the importance of the U.S. economy today.
Then came British industrialization. To serve its colonialist expansion, Britain sought to weaken China from the inside. So it promoted opium trade with China. With a large scale of the population becoming addicted to this drug, the shocked Chinese throne tried to ban opium trade. To protect its great profits, Britain, now with industrialized weaponry, invaded China in 1839. The Chinese military, greatly outdated (think swords and arrows), failed miserably against the British gunboats, which were able to take advantage of the Chinese’ tactical weaknesses and ultimately acquired vast wealth to a world which was rich in the high days of colonialism. After Britain, came France, Spain, Japan, etc. China was doomed to more than a century of humiliation and colonization and suffering, and not until the 20th century did China get back on its feet. Given this dark history, drugs are seen by the Chinese not as an item, but a reminder of the bloodiest and darkest days of Chinese civilization. And this feeling still affects the public’s attitude towards drugs nowadays. This partly explains the strong drug restrictions by the current Chinese government. (end)
Jingyu Zhang, intern, can be reached at email@example.com.