such as fentanyl, which have been blamed for public health crises in the United States, Canada and Australia.
The drugs are available for purchase online from manufacturers in China, who constantly tweak their formulas to keep the them one step ahead of laws that ban the products based on their chemical composition.
Beijing has come under pressure from abroad to curb the problem.
Online sales of the drugs in China saw a sharp increase, said an annual report from Liu’s commission released yesterday, with contraband smuggled in postal parcels and other means.
Two raids on online drug sellers last year ended in the arrests of 21,000 people, and the seizure of 10.8 tonnes of drugs and 52 tonnes of precursor chemicals, which can be used to manufacture synthetic drugs.
“Due to growing overseas demand, more precursors may be smuggled out of China.”
The use of synthetic drugs at home had also accelerated, it said, noting that drug usage in the country had undergone a “fundamental change” as users move away from opiates like heroin towards newly emerging drugs.
Last year, the number of known drug users in China rose 6.8 per cent to 2.505 million. Of these, more than 60 per cent consumed synthetic drugs (primarily methamphetamine and ketamine), 38 per cent used opiates such as heroin, and a little more than one per cent cocaine and marijuana. AFP