China And US Meet to Discuss Fentanyl Crisis

( – In an improvement of US and China relations, both countries have begun talks in Beijing regarding the issue of fentanyl in the US. The talks marked the first formal high-level discussions between the US and China on the matter in years.

Chinese Minister of Public Security Wang Xiaohong said he hoped that they will reach a common understanding on the issue and expressed a desire to stabilize relations between the US and China.

Fentanyl is currently responsible for the biggest drug crisis in US history. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported over 70,000 overdose deaths involving opioids in 2021, with most of them being because of fentanyl. While China took steps in 2019 to permanently classify all fentanyl variants as controlled substances and stop the direct flow of finished fentanyl to the US, the country is still where most of the fentanyl in the US comes from. The shipments of fentanyl go to Mexico, where cartels smuggle it into the US.

The recent restart of cooperation on the matter is because of the November meeting between President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping. Cooperation had been suspended in August 2022 after then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan. Since the Biden-Xi meeting, China has issued notices to domestic companies to prevent illegal sales of the chemicals that make fentanyl and implemented new enforcement measures. China has also resumed providing information to the US about suspicious shipments and suspected trafficking.

Despite these efforts, Jen Daskal, an adviser from the Department of Homeland Security, said more action is needed, emphasizing that talks are one thing, but that China needs to strictly enforce their bans and prove they are willing to stop the flow of fentanyl to the US.

China says that the US bears most of the responsibility for the crisis and asserts that the US needs to do more to decrease demand.

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