In-Tempo, a popular bar in Guangzhou’s Tianhe district was raided in the early hours of Saturday morning by police on the hunt for drugs and drug users.
All of the bar’s attendees, the majority of whom were foreigners, were forced to go to nearby police stations to complete a drug test despite not being placed under arrest.
One customer did test positive for an illegal substance but was later released after a second test came back negative.
All other attendees tested negative and no drugs were found.
Police entered the venue on Zhongshan Avenue at around 5am on Saturday morning with sniffer dogs.
Everyone inside the club was then forced to wait outside for two hours while police cars took them in groups to different police stations around the city.
That’s spoke to someone (who asked to remain anonymous) who was taken from the club to a nearby police station to undergo a drugs test.
“We still had our phones and weren’t under arrest but no one was telling us why we were being taken to a police station or what we had to do. None of the police spoke English and we were just waiting around. I was with my friend, two guys and a Russian girl who got split up from her boyfriend. She couldn’t speak English or Chinese.
“When we asked for water, the police officers kept ignoring us. It was only when we asked them multiple times that they gave us some but they made us pay RMB20.”
Eventually, an English-speaking officer arrived at the station and they told them what would happen.
The officer explained that they would have to provide a urine and hair sample, as well as their fingerprints and undergo an interview.
The same officer told the other police officers in the station that they shouldn’t have to pay for water.
“Everyone was OK with doing the test,” the club attendee who spoke to That’s explained. “But what was really annoying was that they just took so long to process everything.
“The hair sample had to be taken to another police station which took five hours and, in the end, they couldn’t use the sample because the equipment only works for Chinese ID cards, not passports.
“We were in a windowless room next to people who were actually under arrest and we weren’t allowed to order food. At around 3pm the next day they asked if we wanted some bread.
“Someone I was with called one of his friends in another station and he said they were allowed to go to the shop, buy food and order takeaway. They were released by 1pm the same day.”
The person we spoke to and the people they were with were not released until 5.30pm on Saturday, more than 12 hours after police entered the venue.
Some people in other stations were not allowed to leave until 7pm.
Although the event has not made our source contemplate whether they will continue going to late-night bars in China, it has made them rethink whether they will live here in the long term.
“I completely agree with China’s no drug policy and the raids I can understand to a certain extent, too. It’s a way of making sure people follow the rules,” they explained. “But there wasn’t any need to treat us like that and they need to be more efficient.”
China has a zero-tolerance policy on drugs and punishments for drug-related offenses can be as severe as the death penalty.
In 2018 there were several raids on bars and clubs in Guangzhou and Shenzhen.
In November 2018 bars were raided in Shuiwei village, in the Futian district of Shenzhen.
No arrests were made but attendees had to perform on-the-spot drug tests.
Just two weeks later, in December 2018 Hooley’s Irish Pub in Zhujiang New Town (Guangzhou’s Tianhe district) was descended on by police and around 70 people were sent to police stations to perform drug tests.
Shortly after the event, That’s spoke to one of the people who was caught up in the raid.
If you have recently been caught up in a drug raid in China and want to share your experience, send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org.