Chinese Official Refutes Trump's Fentanyl Claims

By Paul Gaita 09/20/19

The official alleges that since China added fentanyl-related drugs to their controlled substances list last May that no new smuggling cases have come to light.

Trump discussing fentanyl

Amidst a recent war of words between China and the United States over fentanyl smuggling, a narcotics official in China said at a news conference that while the two countries have a "good cooperative relationship," they have "extremely limited" cooperation on investigations into and prosecution of fentanyl cases.

President Donald Trump and other U.S. officials have alleged that the Asian superpower is the primary source of the synthetic opioid and derivatives that are smuggled into the U.S., a claim which Chinese drug officials have vehemently denied, and in turn levied allegations that the U.S. hasn't done enough to curb fentanyl abuse within its own borders. 

Finding Common Ground

The statement by Liu Yuejin, Vice Commissioner of the China National Narcotics Control Commission, suggested that the countries had yet to reach common ground on how to tackle the global fentanyl problem.

Reuters quoted a broadcast from Chinese state television that covered Liu's appearance at a news conference to detail how the country was waging war on fentanyl production. Liu noted that "looking at cases, counter-narcotics law enforcement departments from China and the United States have for many years maintained a good cooperative relationship."

He then added, "But cooperation on investigating and prosecuting fentanyl-related substances is extremely limited."

Liu went on to claim that since 2012, the U.S. has only presented "clues" on six fentanyl-related smuggling cases to Chinese officials, and only three of those cases reached a positive resolution.

By comparison, China had provided U.S. law enforcement with nearly 400 leads on fentanyl-related packages since 2012, Liu said.

Controlled Substance Ban

Liu further noted that since May 1, 2019—when China added the entire class of fentanyl-related drugs to its list of controlled substances at the behest of Trump—no fentanyl-related smuggling cases had come to light. He also claimed that fentanyl-related deaths in the States have risen further.

Both points underscored, as Liu suggested, "that President Trump's tweets about fentanyl in the U.S. mainly coming from China are not true at all," referring to an August 23, 2019 tweet from the president in which he urged all postal and delivery service carriers to "search for and refuse" all deliveries of fentanyl from China.

As for the notion that Chinese-produced fentanyl has been entering the U.S. through Mexico, which Trump alleged in a June tweet, Liu said that "police from [China, the U.S. and Mexico] have not detected or cracked a single case. Then what is the basis for the conclusion drawn by certain U.S. politicians? They have sat at home and imagined such things out of thin air."

In regard to Trump's tweet, CNN stated that his assertion that 90% of the drugs entering the United States come through Mexico had some flaws, given that the fentanyl from China is purer and can then be used to manufacture more narcotics, while Mexico imports more fentanyl from China than U.S. law enforcement seizes at the border.

Please read our comment policy. - The Fix

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.