There is a drug overdose crisis in the United States, and it is being fueled by an illegal synthetic drug finding its way into the country from China.
A deadly illicit synthetic form of the drug fentanyl—up to 50 times stronger than heroin, is killing people in the United States at the rate of nearly 80 a day. Producers of the drug in China have been able to bypass regulations by manufacturing variants of the opioid. Fentanyl is 50 to 100 times stronger for pain relief than morphine, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
In 2017, China promised President Trump it would curb the spread of the drug in America.
Liu Yuejin, deputy director of China’s National Narcotics Control Commission, said, “The U.S. is concerned about all variants [of fentanyl], and it’s all been resolved.”
Liu also said, “China has strict controls on fentanyl, there has never been a problem from fentanyl produced legally in China … the illegal cases we cracked in joint operations with U.S. authorities were all results of the lawbreakers ganging up with overseas crime groups.”
China lays the blame of America’s overdose problems at their doorstep.
“We believe the overdose problem in the United States is mainly caused by domestic reasons,” said Liu.
The president accused China on Aug.1, of reneging on its promise to restrict the synthetic opioid’s entry into America.
Xi had promised Trump at a summit in Argentina last December that he would act.
“My friend President Xi said that he would stop the sale of fentanyl to the United States—this never happened and many Americans continue to die,” Trump said in a tweet.
“We’re losing thousands of people to fentanyl,” he later told reporters.
The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy said after Trump’s comments on Thursday that the administration had not “directly seen any large-scale seizures or law enforcement action by the Chinese on fentanyl.”
“Each year, tens of thousands of Americans die from drug overdoses involving fentanyl, most of which originates in China. In order for us to save American lives, it’s critical China follow through on its pledge to schedule all fentanyl-related drugs as a class and crack down on those producing these deadly substances. The United States will continue working diligently with our partners abroad to keep lethal drugs like fentanyl out of our communities,” ONDCP Director James Carroll said.
US officials and experts had been doubtful that Beijing would implement a crackdown, and many think it depends on progress in resolving the U.S.-China trade war.
Derek Scissors, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute think tank, said we have reason to be concerned.
“What the Chinese have effectively said is we should forget what they said just a few months ago. If they don’t like the trade situation, the fentanyl and related products will continue to flow,” he said in an email on July 1, as reported by Reuters.
The president is planning to expand tariffs to virtually all imported goods from China, “Trade talks are continuing, and … during the talks the U.S. will start, on September 1st, putting a small additional Tariff of 10% on the remaining 300 Billion Dollars of goods and products coming from China into our Country,” he wrote on Twitter.
The president said the Chinese are hoping to stall trade negotiations until after the 2020 elections, “The problem with them waiting, however, is that if & when I win, the deal that they get will be much tougher than what we are negotiating now … or no deal at all.”
The president tweeted, “They would just love if I got defeated so they could deal with somebody like Elizabeth Warren or Sleepy Joe Biden. … They’ll pray that Trump loses. And then they’ll make a deal with a stiff, somebody that doesn’t know what they’re doing like Obama and Biden, like all the presidents before,” he told reporters on July 30.
With China’s economy growing at the slowest rate in the past 26 years, the U.S.-China trade war is hurting China much more than America. Meanwhile, fentanyl is claiming thousands of American lives.