An un­for­get­table ex­pe­ri­ence

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - CHINA - By ZHANG YI

In nearly 12 years as a jour­nal­ist, I have con­ducted thou­sands of in­ter­views and wit­nessed many big events. A month ago, when I was as­signed to re­port on nar­cotics con­trol in Yun­nan prov­ince, a re­gion that bor­ders Laos, Myan­mar and Viet­nam, I never imag­ined that it would be my most un­for­get­table ex­pe­ri­ence for many years.

When I ar­rived in the trop­i­cal moun­tain­ous area af­ter an ex­cru­ci­at­ing trip and at­tended a field in­spec­tion with nar­cotics of­fi­cers from Mukang sta­tion in Mang­shi, a gate­way tar­geted by drug traf­fick­ers, I re­al­ized that the young of­fi­cers, mostly in their 20s, face deadly dan­gers ev­ery day.

Even when wear­ing full body ar­mor, they are still ex­posed to un­pre­dictable threats. Most of them were fresh out of high school when they were re­cruited as armed po­lice of­fi­cers.

None of them had any idea of the life-and-death sit­u­a­tions they would face in their work. Some of­fi­cers have lost their lives in the line of duty. For oth­ers, the job of in­spect­ing sus­pect ve­hi­cles re­quires selfless de­vo­tion and pro­fes­sional skill. More­over, much of the work is te­dious, unglam­orous and un­her­alded.

The story of a 20-year-old fe­male nar­cotics of­fi­cer struck me most. A year ago, she was a typ­i­cal mid­dle school stu­dent — an as­pir­ing fash­ion­ista, who en­joyed Korean movies and hang­ing out with friends. Now, she has learned to do ev­ery­thing from ve­hi­cle in­spec­tions to ap­pre­hend­ing sus­pects. She has even over­come her aver­sion to what she saw as the worst part of her job as a new re­cruit — per­form­ing cav­ity searches to ex­tract pack­ets of drugs swal­lowed by “mules”.

Dur­ing our in­ter­view, she told me that af­ter her first ex­trac­tion, she couldn’t eat for two days and vom­ited sev­eral times, even days later. She even thought about quit­ting the job. How­ever, the thou­sands of cases at the sta­tion and the sup­port of her col­leagues con­vinced her to con­tinue.

Now, when I see me­dia re­ports that fo­cus on eco­nomic “mir­a­cles”, busi­ness ty­coons, glam­orous celebri­ties or just anec­dotes, I think of this group of pub­lic ser­vants who are wor­thy of greater at­ten­tion and de­serve more re­spect from so­ci­ety.

LIN YIGUANG / XIN­HUA

Nar­cotics con­trol of­fi­cers in­spect pas­sen­gers’ lug­gage at a bor­der area in Yun­nan prov­ince.

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