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The New York Times May 11, 1952
UNITED NATIONS, N.Y., May 10--- At the instigation of President Theodore Roosevelt, representatives of many nations assembled in Shanghai in 1909 to discuss the possibility of establishing international controls over traffic in narcotics. From that initial attempt to tackle one of the world's great evils and obliterate it gradually, a series of agreements has resulted over the intervening four decades-- agreements that have vastly reduced the threat, but left it still unconquered.
As the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs struggled during the last two weeks with the complexities of enforcement on a world scale, two major developments loomed as characteristic of the post-war phase of the battle between producers and purveyors, on the one hand, and consistently more rigid controls on the other. They were the emergence of Communist China as probably the largest present source of three of the most potent addiction-producing narcotics, and the increase of smuggling by plane to evade the hazard of the older land and sea routes.
From the data submitted by the delegates of the United States, which admittedly has more and better facilities than other member countries for detection of illicit transport, the responsibility of the Chinese Communist regime was established for the flourishing trade in opium and its derivatives.
Under current conditions, according to Harry J. Anslinger, the United States spokesman, the Peiping authorities not only sponsor opium production, but use the funds accruing from sales to obtain strategic materials for the Chinese mainland.
Legal production of opium throughout the world is restricted by protocol to approximately 500 tons, exclusively for medical purposes. But by the most conservative estimate, Communist China is now producing 4,000 tons, mainly in Jehol and Yunan provinces, to which can be added another probable 2,000 tons in the remaining opium growing countries. Opium, furthermore, is only one of the main items in the international commerce in prohibited drugs.
Statistics on seizures of drugs have led U.S. Representatives to list as chief offenders in the export field Communist China, Burma, Malaya, India, Afghanistan, Japan, Turkey, Thailand, Iran, Syria, Lebanon and Mexico. France and Italy figure as well in this traffic, with the distinction that France is a "victim nation," used by producing countries as a transit point, and that Italy's policing of her freebooters is on the upgrade with a ban recently against the possessing of opium.
Hong Kong's importance as a nerve center of smuggling stemming from the mainland of China is enhanced by Hong Kong's geographical position, which favors the smugglers and hampers patrols.
Prospects for restricting production to the 500-ton limit are not good. Nations that
are still opium producers have been disinterested in a price pegging proposal, arguing
that if they eliminate this source of revenue, they should be recompensed by a far higher
price for the legitimate stocks than they now receive.
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