China declines ‘sustained conversation’ with US on fentanyl crisis, ambassador reveals

WASHINGTON — The White House’s chief diplomat to China reveals that discussions aimed at establishing a working group to address the fentanyl crisis have hit a standstill.

Ambassador Nicholas Burns made the comment during a live-webcast of the National Committee on United States-China Relations.

“The diplomatic problem is that the Chinese refuse to have a sustained conversation with us for how we can work to prevent Chinese companies from exporting precursor chemicals to the drug cartels in Mexico, and 90 percent of the precursor chemicals that the drug cartels use come from Chinese companies. How can we prevent that from happening? The Chinese government has a lot of authority. It can exercise that authority,” Burns said.

During Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s trip to Beijing in June, both the U.S. and China agreed to explore setting up a working group to stop the flow of illicit drugs and fentanyl precursors to America, but that hasn’t happened.

“We understand that we have a responsibility as Americans to deal with the demand at home. China has a responsibility to stop the flow of precursor chemicals to the drug cartels in China. We have to work on this together,” Burns said.

While Burns isn’t optimistic, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said earlier this week that Chinese President Xi Jinping had indicated he would consider Schumer’s request to appoint a high-level official for talks on the issue.

“I asked him directly to do that, and he didn’t say no. He didn’t. He could have said, ‘First, as we said before, first remove the sanctions.’ He didn’t say that,” Schumer told reporters, following a meeting with Xi Jinping.

China has declined to engage in discussions about fentanyl until the U.S. lifts the trade restrictions imposed on a Chinese police forensics science institute back in 2020.

Just last week Emily’s Hope reported that the Justice Department pressed charges against eight Chinese companies and indicted 12 executives for their alleged involvement in drug trafficking. Simultaneously, the Treasury Department imposed sanctions on 28 individuals and entities, predominantly in China, with three based in Canada. These sanctions effectively cut off their access to the U.S. financial system and prohibits any business transactions with them by American entities.