With news of bars being raided in Shanghai in the last few days, the UK government (and others) has issued a timely reminder of the strict drug laws in place in the country, and the harsh punishments meted out to those who break them, writing:
“As bars and restaurants continue to reopen, remember that raids can and do occur. Do not join the 30 Brits detained by the police across China last year.
Testing positive can lead to detention of up to 15 days, a fine and deportation, or even longer sentences. The following is an extract from Travel Advice:
China has a zero-tolerance policy on drugs. There are severe penalties for drug-related offences including the death penalty. Police often raid bars and nightclubs checking for the use of illicit substances. Raids on private homes have also occurred. UK Government
What Happens If You Are Detained?
The following is a typical sequence of events for what can be expected if detained:
1. Taken from location (home, office, bar, club) to police station.
2. Can be detained for questioning for up to 24 hours while police conduct an initial investigation.
3. Either released, given administrative detention or considered for criminal charges – all with possible fines imposed.
4. If administrative detention is imposed, the period varies; usually between 3 and 15 days.
5. There can be conditions upon release.
6. Again, these vary case to case – from release, release with fine imposed, to deportation.
7. Either the detained person, their family/friends, or employer will be expected to fund their flight back to the UK (or home country). 8. The UK government can help by speaking to a detainee’s family, friends, and/or employer in respect to funds, but they cannot provide money from public funds. 9. Some people are then subject to a five-year travel ban from re-entering China.
10. If criminal charges are brought, it is likely the time in detention could be up to 12 months before a trial date and any verdict handed down.
11. During administrative and criminal detention, foreign nationals are usually only permitted access to their consular and legal representatives.
What the British Consulate or Embassy Can Do If You are Detained
Once again, we cannot stress strongly enough that the best thing you can do is not do drugs. But, should you be caught and detained, here is what the UK government can do for you.
1. The police will ask foreign nationals if they would like their consulate or embassy informed of their detention and if they would like them to contact them.
2. In the case of British people, consular staff will contact detainees as soon as possible after being officially notified of the detention, and visit them if they’d like them to.
3. If a British person is detained for a longer period, consular staff will visit them on a regular basis (in most cases once a month).
4. They will tell the detainee’s family and friends they’ve been arrested/detained if they want them to – they can also help a detainee understand the benefits of contacting their family if they are initially unsure.
5. They can then pass on messages to and from family/friends.
6. Consular staff can give detainees information about the Chinese legal system, explain the prison system, mail and censorship, privileges, and how to access medical services.
7. They cannot give legal advice but can provide detainees with a list of English speaking lawyers in China.
8. Put them in touch with a prisoners’ welfare charity called Prisoners Abroad.
9. Please note, the UK government is limited in what support and advice they are able to give British nationals who also hold Chinese citizenship.
10. Additionally, anyone entering China with dual nationality (neither of which is Chinese), and requires Consular support (such as in the event of detention and arrest) may be restricted to seeking Consular support from the country related to the passport they entered China on.