China on Ice: Meth in the People’s Republic

What do a cheap Shanghai convenience store and a small Guangdong village have in common? Here are some hints: it’s one of the fastest-growing markets in China. It’s particularly popular with newly moneyed city dwellers. It’s all over social networks like WeChat and QQ. No, it’s not a new smartphone or app: it’s crystal meth.

It’s a Wednesday night, and we’re in a generic Shanghai convenience store in the former French Concession. Two young shop attendants are standing behind bubbling vats of sauce-soaked skewers. In the opposite corner, a stocky man lingers by the snack counter. He’s been there all evening. He was there yesterday and will be there tomorrow. He is the local drug dealer, at your service: and you can bet he has “bingdu” (冰毒), or “ice.”

His supply could have come from any number of places, but there’s a decent chance it was produced near the village of Boshe, in Guangdong Province.

[Read in That’s Shanghai, March 2015]