Drug use in show bizz world sends dangerous signal to youth

Updated: 2014-08-19 05:59

By Chang Jun(China Daily USA)

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Celebrities in China, including pop singers, movie stars and opinion leaders, should safeguard their reputations, set a good example for the entire society and serve as role models for their fans, especially teenage fans who are still in the process of forming their world outlook and values.

Among the social taboos celebrities should avoid, illegal drug use may be the most treacherous and notorious. In failing to play a positive role and advocate a healthy lifestyle in the area of illegal drug use, celebrities also fail to fulfill their social responsibility by misleading the younger generation and sending a dangerous message to a vulnerable group.

Drug use in show bizz world sends dangerous signal to youth

In one sense, celebrities at the center of drug use scandals are accomplices of drug dealers, or even worse. The public and parents have ample reasons to worry about the lingering impact of their misbehavior on youth.

For many Chinese, Aug 18 was a shocking Monday as Beijing police confirmed the arrest of 31-year-old actor Jaycee Chan, son of internationally-renowned martial arts movie star Jackie Chan, on drug-related charges.

Beijing police said they had found three and a half ounces of marijuana last week at Chan's Beijing residence and he tested positive for drug use. Chan also allowed the 23-year-old Taiwan actor Kai Ko to use drugs and another man surnamed Song to engage in dealing drugs out of his house.

The detention of Chan and Ko has made them the latest additions to a growing list of Chinese celebrities arrested in China's tough crackdown on illegal drug use in the past two years. To date, about 11 stars from entertainment industry circles on the Chinese mainland, Hong Kong and Taiwan have been arrested for either possession or consumption of drugs ranging from marijuana to methamphetamine.

The arrested high-profile celebrities include: singer Li Daimo, film director Zhang Yuan, writer and director Chen Wanning (who is better known by his pen name Ning Caishen), Hong Kong actor Roy Cheung, actor Zhang Mo, actor Gao Hu and the most recent Chan and Ko. For Zhang Yuan and Zhang Mo, it was their second time in jail.

Addiction and drug overdoses have destroyed many families and individuals. As of the end of May, China reported 2.6 million registered drug users, according to the Ministry of Public Security.

In Beijing alone, drug addicts have increased by 10 percent a year. And among the 25,000 registered addicts in the city, about 73 percent were under 35 years of age, according to the city's Narcotics Control Bureau.

In June, Chinese President Xi Jinping vowed to launch a nationwide crackdown on drug-related crimes, calling the fight against drugs "a matter of the people's well-being, an important work of social harmony and stability".

Premier Li Keqiang called drugs the "common enemy to humanity". Xinhua News Agency reported that in the first five months of this year, the government had held 39,762 people accountable on drug offenses, a 27.8 percent increase over the same period last year.

In response to the public outcry for a healthy entertainment industry and in order to restore its tarnished image, 42 artist management agencies signed an agreement with Beijing police on Aug 13 vowing to take tough action against industry professionals who are involved in illegal drug use.

The agencies promised to help purify the entertainment industry by promoting anti-drug rules and pledging not to hire any professionals with a history of drug use.

"We will not promote anyone who has a history of using drugs, not even those who have quit, since they have already had an extremely negative impact on society," said Jin Jianqiang, a senior executive for the Beijing Century Performing Arts Company, as reported by the Beijing News.

For Jackie Chan, who has volunteered his time as one of China's Narcotics Control Ambassadors since 2009, his son's arrest on drug charges is not only an embarrassment but also a thought-provoking dilemma. How should parents educate their children on how to pick their friends and not to fall victim to narcotics and drugs when a star like Chan has failed?

Contact the writer at junechang@chinadailyusa.com.