U.S. & China to hold high-level fentanyl talks this week

WASHINGTON – United States government officials are headed to Beijing for high-level fentanyl talks with Chinese officials. The Tuesday meeting comes after years of a lack of cooperation between the two countries. However,  as Emily’s Hope reported in November, President Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping have pledged to restart counternarcotics cooperation.

The delegation includes officials from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and Justice, Homeland Security, State and Treasury departments.

“Through this interagency working group, the United States will pursue a range of efforts across law enforcement actions, efforts to institute precursor chemical controls, monitor emerging front trends, counter illicit finance, and coordinate with other partners to help disrupt the global illicit drug supply chain.,” Senior administration officials said during a press conference.

Despite Beijing’s ban on fentanyl sales in 2019, the Drug Enforcement Administration identifies China and Mexico as the primary sources of fentanyl and fentanyl precursors trafficked directly into the United States.

“And I don’t think I have to tell anybody here that 100,000 people a year die in the United States from fentanyl overdoses.  More people in the United States between the ages of 18 and 49 die from fentanyl than any other cause,” Senior administration officials said.

The topic has been a source of contention between the two countries. After the White House indicted and sanctioned 25 individuals and entities based in China because of the fentanyl crisis, Beijing criticized the United States.

“The fentanyl crisis in the United States is rooted in the country itself,” Beijing’s foreign ministry told AFP. “Imposing pressure and sanctions cannot solve the United States’ own problems. It will only create obstacles in the China-US cooperation on drug control.” 

On a positive note, China showed a shift in approach by submitting 145 drug-related incidents to the International Narcotics Control Board Database in November, marking the first time in almost three years. The database is used to share real-time information internationally about suspected trafficking.

“We’re starting to see reductions in seizures of precursors at some U.S. airports already.  I think the nature of the drug trade means that we can’t just rest on the laurels of this set of actions that happened right after the summit.  The hope is that — and our goal is that we use this working group to drive continued progress,” Senior administration officials said.

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