U.S.-China deal on the horizon? Sanctions drop discussed to spur fentanyl crackdown

WASHINGTON DC – According to the Wall Street Journal, the Biden administration might lift sanctions on a Chinese police forensics institute, granting it access to U.S. technology. This decision is seen as a strategy to persuade China to collaborate in addressing the fentanyl crisis.

During a diplomatic visit to Beijing last month, Secretary of State Antony Blinken proposed a U.S.-China working group to tackle the fentanyl problem. China’s cooperation, however, has been contingent on the removal of the police institute from the U.S. export blacklist. The administration is now considering this action, sources say.

More than three years ago, the Trump administration blacklisted the Chinese Ministry of Public Security’s Institute of Forensic Science due to its role in monitoring and mistreating Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang. Being blacklisted significantly restricts access to U.S. technology.

The U.S. ambassador to China recently disputed the country’s culpability for the U.S. fentanyl crisis, despite evidence that most of the drug’s ingredients originate from China. These precursors are typically sent to Mexican cartels that produce fentanyl and smuggle it into the U.S. via the southern border.

Fentanyl overdoses have become a leading cause of death in the U.S. The Biden administration has opposed an amendment to the annual defense bill that seeks further information on China’s role in the crisis.

These developments reflect the Biden administration’s ongoing attempts to foster cooperation with China. Earlier this month, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen rejected the notion of “decoupling” from China during her visit, advocating instead for less drastic policy actions. Similarly, U.S. special envoy on climate John Kerry visited China seeking collaboration on climate goals, though he returned without any commitments.