Biden announces agreement with China to curb illicit fentanyl production

WOODSIDE, Calif. – After their first meeting in a year, U.S. President Joe Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping have reached an agreement to curb the export of chemicals used to produce the powerful opioid fentanyl.

Drug overdoses and fentanyl poisonings are now the number one killer of Americans under 50, and according to the Drug Enforcement Administration, Mexico and China are the primary source countries for fentanyl and fentanyl-related substances trafficked directly into America.

While specific details of the agreement were not extensively disclosed, Biden highlighted China’s commitment to target chemical companies producing fentanyl precursors directly.

During a news conference, Biden expressed optimism, stating, “It’s going to save lives, and I appreciate President Xi’s commitment on this issue.” 

Additionally, Xi agreed to clamp down on the manufacturing of pill presses, which have contributed to the production of counterfeit prescription painkillers containing deadly doses of fentanyl. In fact, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention sent out an alert earlier this year about the rise in deaths caused by counterfeit pills. The number of deadly overdoses involving those pills doubled from 2% in July 2019 to 4.7% in December 2021. Some areas saw even higher rates, including the western U.S., where it has tripled to 14.7%. 

“President Xi and I tasked our teams to maintain a policy and law enforcement coordination going forward to make sure it works,” Biden said.

Although China previously pledged to halt fentanyl shipments to the U.S. in 2019, subsequent developments saw Chinese companies selling fentanyl ingredients and pill presses. 

In light of the new agreement, Biden emphasized the importance of “trust but verify,” acknowledging the need for ongoing monitoring and enforcement coordination to ensure China’s commitment to curbing the fentanyl trade.