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China Planned to Kill Drug Lord With Drone

The plan highlights the nation's increasing use of unmanned aerial warfare.


China is stepping up its drone use. Photo via

By McCarton Ackerman


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China's increasing use of drone warfare is now carrying over to its drug war operations. The country recently considered using a drone strike in a mountainous region of Southeast Asia to kill a Myanmar drug lord wanted in the killing of 13 Chinese sailors, but they opted instead to capture him alive in April 2012. The plan highlights the nation's increasing use of drones—a technology previously dominated by the US in the war on terrorism. Naw Kham, a member of Myanmar’s ethnic Shan minority and a major drug trafficker, was suspected as the murderer in the October 2011 killings on two cargo ships filled with narcotics. Chinese police searched the opium-growing areas of Myanmar in the Golden Triangle, which intersects Laos, Thailand and Vietnam, without success. Liu Yuejin, the director of the public security ministry’s antidrug bureau, confirmed that a plan was then hatched to use drones carrying explosives and bomb the outlaw’s hide-out in the area using Beidou, the country's global navigation system. Ultimately, “we didn’t use China’s military, and we didn’t harm a single foreign citizen,” said Liu after the arrest in April 2012. But the nation plans to expand their use of drone warfare; by 2015, the State Oceanic Administration has said it plans to use drones along China’s coastline on a permanent basis.

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