Social Workers Warn Hong Kong Youth Face Risks When They Seek Drugs in China

Lindsay CuiKate Pound Dawson

The recent detention of more than 100 Hong Kong people in southern China for drug abuse highlights the increasing popularity of cross-border entertainment trips. Social workers in Hong Kong want closer collaboration between Hong Kong and Chinese authorities to help stem drug abuse. VOA's Kate Pound Dawson has this report prepared by Lindsay Cui in Hong Kong.

Every week thousands of Hong Kong people cross into mainland China to shop, go to movies and to party at nightclubs, taking advantage of lower prices across the border.

Many young people also are attracted by cheaper prices for illegal drugs in China.

More than 100 young people from Hong Kong were detained for drug offenses in the mainland city of Shenzhen in December. Social workers say this shows just the tip of the iceberg of cross-border drug use.

Social workers say the opening of the border 24 hours a day in 2003 spurred an increase in cross-border drug trips. Statistics from the Hong Kong police department show that drug users aged 16 last accounted for more than 10 percent of drug cases, up from 7.9 percent of cases in 2003.

Eric Lau used to be one of them.

"Two years or three years ago, when I was 14, I didn't want people to look at me as a child. So I think if I take drugs, I can catch up with them. Hong Kong's legal system is strict. I'm afraid of being arrested in Hong Kong and having a life-long criminal record," he said.

Eric joined thousands of other Hong Kong residents, lured over the border by cheaper prices, bigger discos and looser controls.

Paul Lo, who heads the Evangelical Lutheran Church's North District youth outreach team, says the issue warrants more official concern.

"The mainstream society, I don't think they'll [be] concerned [about] this issue much. I've talked about the issue, [it] has already begun in 1999, [but it was] only before Christmas they did a high profile action that arrest more than one hundred Hong Kong young people," he said.

His team's research shows that of those who go to Shenzhen's discos, most go once a week, often after midnight, and they are from housing estates close to Hong Kong's border with China. Ecstasy and ketamine are the most popular drugs and young people spend $13 to $60 during each trip on transport, club entrance fees and drugs.

Lo says drugs are easy to find.

"The accessibility is quite simple," he said. "Just go into the disco and there'll be some trafficker [who will] approach you."

He says the Hong Kong government is in touch with the Shenzhen authorities, but that officials on both sides of the border could do more to tackle the problem.

He and other social workers say parents, schools and the government should work together to educate youth on the health and legal consequences of drug abuse.

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?i
Carol Pearson
November 29, 2015 1:23 PM
The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?

The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video Political Motives Seen Behind Cancelled Cambodian Water Festival

For the fourth time in the five years since more than 350 people were killed in a stampede at Cambodia’s annual water festival, authorities canceled the event this year. Officials blamed environmental reasons as the cause, but many see it as fallout from rising political tensions with a fresh wave of ruling party intimidation against the opposition. David Boyle and Kimlong Meng report from Phnom Penh.

Video African Circus Gives At-Risk Youth a 2nd Chance

Ethiopia hosted the first African Circus Arts Festival this past weekend with performers from seven different African countries. Most of the performers are youngsters coming form challenging backgrounds who say the circus gave them a second chance.

Video US Lawmakers Brace for End-of-Year Battles

U.S. lawmakers are returning to Washington for Congress’ final working weeks of the year. And, as VOA's Michael Bowman reports, a full slate of legislative business awaits them, from keeping the federal government open to resolving a battle with the White House over the admittance of Syrian refugees.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video After Terrorist Attacks, Support for Refugees Fades

The terrorists who killed and injured almost 500 people around Paris this month are mostly French or Belgian nationals. But at least two apparently took advantage of Europe’s migrant crisis to sneak into the region. The discovery has hardened views about legitimate refugees, including those fleeing the same extremist violence that hit the French capital. Lisa Bryant has this report for VOA from the Paris suburb of Cergy-Pontoise

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

As Thailand takes in the annual Loy Krathong festival, many ponder the country’s future and security. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs