China Agrees To Increase Fight Against Fentanyl

By Paul Gaita 12/04/18

China was labeled the "primary source" of fentanyl in the United States in a 2016 intelligence report by the Drug Enforcement Agency.

Chinese President Xi Jinping pictured with Trump has agreed to crack down on fentanyl
Photo via YouTube

Chinese President Xi Jinping has pledged to crack down on trafficking and manufacturing of the deadly synthetic opioid fentanyl as part of larger negotiations between the United States and the Asian superpower.

Speaking after a dinner meeting on December 1, 2018 between Xi and President Donald Trump at the Group of 20 meeting in Buenos Aires, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said in a statement that China will enforce stricter rules in regard to the drug and work more closely with US law enforcement.

Trump praised Xi's decision to reporters aboard Air Force One, calling it a "game changer" for the American people. 

China was labeled the "primary source" of fentanyl in the United States in a 2016 intelligence report by the Drug Enforcement Agency, which further claimed that production of the drug – which was the cause of death in nearly half of the more than 70,000 overdose mortalities in 2017, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – and its analogues faced lax regulation in China, allowing for widespread production and sale through the internet.

The Chinese government has attempted to correct the situation through arrests of drug traffickers and seizure of analogues, but its top drug official, Yu Haibin, told reporters in 2017 that there was "little evidence" that the country was producing the chemicals used to create fentanyl.

Congressional investigations in 2018 found that Chinese opioid manufacturers were easily exploiting loopholes in the US Postal Service to ship large quantities of fentanyl and other drugs to the US, which prompted lawmakers from both political parties to press Trump on making fentanyl part of the upcoming meeting with China to avert a looming trade war between the two countries

At the December 1 dinner, Trump told reporters in the room that he would address these concerns as part of his conversation with President Xi. As Bloomberg News noted, Wang, the Chinese Foreign Minister, later said the country will not only "tighten supervision of fentanyl and revise rules on the drug" but also work more closely with US law enforcement. Wang also said that the country would impose stiffer penalties on fentanyl traffickers.

"What he will be doing to fentanyl could be a game changer for the United States and what fentanyl is doing to our country in terms of killing people," said Trump at the press conference aboard Air Force One. "If [traffickers] get caught, they have the highest level of punishment."

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Paul Gaita lives in Los Angeles. He has contributed to the Los Angeles Times, Variety, LA Weekly, and The Los Angeles Beat, among many other publications and websites.