Regarding illicit drugs as a nontraditional security challenge (NTS), the Chinese state deploys a policy package combining coercive crackdown and development assistance to start transnational narcotics control in the Golden Triangle—the notorious illicit opium-producing area between Myanmar, Laos, and Thailand. This paper by 2013 Transregional Research Postdoctoral fellow Xiaobo Su examines how illicit drugs are framed as a security challenge and how the state works with other forces to implement transnational narcotics control. Specifically, Su focuses on the Chinese state’s efforts to implement transnational narcotics control in the notorious illicit opium-producing areas in northern Laos and Myanmar. His analysis draws first on the Copenhagen School’s work on securitization, that is, how certain discourses are deployed to dramatize and present an issue as a security challenge requiring supreme priority. Then he situates drug trafficking in the tension between the territorial logic of national sovereignty and the transnational logic of NTS challenges in order to analyze the Chinese state’s policy of narcotics control in the Golden Triangle. Through this analysis, Su seeks to underscore the longstanding but underdeveloped theoretical recognition of illicit drugs as a global commodity and an NTS challenge. The nexus of territorial sovereignty and extraterritorial subsystems spells out a new direction to understand NTS challenges in general and illicit drugs in particular.

Publication Details

Nontraditional security and China’s transnational narcotics control in northern Laos and Myanmar
Su, Xiaobo
Publish Date
September 2015
Su, Xiaobo, Nontraditional security and China's transnational narcotics control in northern Laos and Myanmar (Elsevier, September 2015).