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Int J Drug Policy. 2013 Sep;24(5):498-505. doi: 10.1016/j.drugpo.2013.03.001. Epub 2013 Apr 6.

Harms caused by China's 1906-17 opium suppression intervention.

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University of East London, School of Law and Social Sciences, Duncan House, High Street Stratford, London E15 2JB, United Kingdom. Electronic address:


Between 1906 and 1917 China (under the Imperial and then Republican regimes) enacted a highly effective intervention to suppress the production of opium. Evidence from British Foreign Office records suggest that the intervention was centred, in many areas, upon a highly repressive incarnation of law enforcement in which rural populations had their property destroyed, their land confiscated and/or were publically tortured, humiliated and executed. Crops were forcefully eradicated and resistance was often brutally suppressed by the military. As few farmers received compensation or support for alternative livelihood creation the intervention pushed many deeper into poverty. Importantly, the repressive nature of the opium ban appears to have been a contributing factor to the fragmentation of China, highlighting the counter-productivity of repressive interventions to reduce drug crop production.


China; Drug law enforcement; Forced eradication; Opium

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