February 18: Southwest China’s Yunnan Province had helped neighboring countries plant nearly one million mu (66,667 hectares) of cash-bearing crops as substitutes for opium poppy by the end of 2006, local Chinese authorities have said.

An area of 284,000 mu (18,933 hectares) in the northern parts of Myanmar and Laos was planted with rubber, tea and other cash  crops in 2006 at a cost of nearly 180 million yuan (22.5 million  U.S. dollars), said Liu Ping, director of the Yunnan Provincial Drug Control Committee and vice governor of the province.

Bordering Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam, Yunnan faces a major problem with drug trafficking from the “Golden Triangle,” a notorious drug-producing area along the Mekong River delta, including Myanmar and Laos.

China has helped neighboring countries to grow alternative cash crops to relieve their dependence on growing poppy.

Last year, the drug-control authorities of Yunnan and neighboring countries, such as Myanmar, Laos and Vietnam, jointly destroyed 185 mu (12.3 hectares) of opium poppy, according to Liu.

They also cracked 18 drug-related cases, seized 52 suspects and 953.6 kg of drugs, Liu said.