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Drugs Lure Hong Kong Youth Across China Border

Flash-lit by synchronized lasers, a nightclub heaving with Hong Kong teenagers vibrates to the latest dance hit as a pair cavort on stage dressed in the skimpiest of outfits.

"Scream louder if you want more," a DJ shouts to the cavernous hall, while on stage the male dancer in low-cut jeans throws his female partner onto his lap in a frenetic routine in time with the music.

It's a typical Friday night, but while many of the clubbers hail from Hong Kong the venue itself is not in their home city. Welcome to Shenzhen, across the border in mainland China and an increasing draw for young people from Hong Kong in the 10 years since the former British colony was handed back to Beijing.

Shenzhen is cheap, it's vibrant and it's close -- and crucially for many of those who regularly make the weekend trip, it's a good source of recreational drugs. "I'm so used to going to Shenzhen," said Ah Yan, 19, who often travels up with groups of 10 or more.

"My friends and I go there every week because it's close and convenient.

They don't check your ID and you can buy drugs from the bouncers." It was at a Shenzhen club that she was first offered ketamine, a so-called party drug to which she later became addicted. Club owners here target the Hong Kong market because they can afford higher entrance fees than local people and drinks that cost three times more.

"Most of our customers are from Hong Kong as local people cannot afford our drinks," said one manager who called himself Ah Kit. "We have people who come late, stay here until early morning and go back to work the next day." They also appear to appreciate easier access to illegal drugs.

"There weren't that many people in these clubs in Shenzhen when I was 14, and now there are a lot more of them," said Siu Bak, now 23, a regular visitor who says she has been abusing drugs since she was 13.

"Be honest, we go there for the dru
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