No Proof China Is Main Fentanyl Supplier For US, Chinese Drug Official Says

By Victoria Kim 12/29/17

A top Chinese drug official suggested that the US should examine domestic policies and attitudes toward drugs that may exacerbate its own drug problem.

China's top drug official Yu Haibin
China's top drug official Yu Haibin Photo via YouTube

Chinese officials have so far complied with the U.S. government’s narrative that China is the main source of fentanyl destined for the United States. However, according to top drug official Yu Haibin, there is not enough evidence to back up this claim.

The Associated Press reports that Yu, of the National Narcotics Control Commission, told reporters Thursday (Dec. 28) that “there is little evidence showing China was the source of much of the chemicals used in the production of the powerful opioid fentanyl.” So far, Yu says, the U.S. has only offered information about six shipments from China in the past year.

“China doesn’t deny that shipments to the U.S. happen, but there isn’t the proof to show how much—whether it’s 20% or 80%,” said Yu.

United States officials have maintained the narrative that much of the fentanyl and other synthetic analogs (copies) and precursor chemicals that have infiltrated America’s illicit drug market come from “clandestine labs” in China.

Fentanyl has turned up across the U.S. in batches of heroin, cocaine and counterfeit pills made to resemble prescription medication like Norco and even Xanax, killing a growing number of unsuspecting users. 

In 2016, the DEA declared that China is the “primary source” of fentanyl in the U.S., alleging that production of fentanyl, and its analogs and precursors, face little regulation in the country, allowing everyone from cartels to small-time dealers to access them via the internet with relative ease. 

Since then, the Chinese government has made a concerted effort to address these claims. According to the Office of the National Narcotics Control Committee, since 2016 the country has arrested “dozens of synthetic drug exporters, destroyed several illegal labs and seized tons of new psychoactive substances.”

Yet the American opioid crisis has not waned. A record number of Americans—63,600—died of a drug overdose in 2016, and more than 42,200 of them involved opioids. Deaths from synthetic opioids (like fentanyl and carfentanil) also increased 3.1 per 100,000 in 2015 to 6.2 per 100,000 in 2016.

Yu invited U.S. officials to share more information with China, if there is indeed more evidence pointing to Chinese drug manufacturers, and also suggested that instead of passing the blame the U.S. should examine domestic policies and attitudes toward drugs that may exacerbate its own drug problem.

“As many states decriminalize marijuana, the public’s attitudes and trends of thinking toward drugs will also have a bad effect” on drug enforcement efforts, said Yu.

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Victoria is interested in anything that has to do with how mind-altering substances impact society. Find Victoria on LinkedIn or Tumblr