Beijing denies playing a significant role in feeding the ongoing opioid crisis that has killed tens of thousands of Americans, repudiating the U.S. assertion that China is the top source of the synthetic opiate fentanyl that is fueling the unprecedented number of fatal drug overdoses in the United States.
“The United States should look within to cut down demand for opioids which are fueling its deadly drug crisis rather than stressing unsubstantiated claims that China is the major source of these chemicals,” the Associated Press (AP) learned from Yu Haibin of the China National Narcotics Control Commission.
Yu blamed America’s fatal overdose problem on a lack of drug abuse education, “a lax cultural attitude” towards illegal drugs stemming from the legalization of marijuana in some states and significant over-prescription of pain medication.
“China doesn’t deny that shipments to the U.S. happen, but there isn’t the proof to show how much — whether it’s 20 percent or 80 percent,” declared the top Chinese drug enforcement official, adding that American authorities have failed to provide sufficient information to combat the illicit trade.
“As many states decriminalize marijuana, the public’s attitudes and trends of thinking toward drugs will also have a bad effect” on the war on drugs, added the Chinese official.
China is eager to work with American counterparts on drug enforcement operations, notes AP, explaining: “Though Beijing has said U.S. assertions that China is the top source of fentanyl lack evidence, the two countries have deepened cooperation as the U.S. opioid epidemic intensifies. Beijing already regulates fentanyl and a number of related compounds, even though they are not widely abused domestically.”
According to the U.S-China and Economic and Security Review Commission, American law enforcement and drug investigators have deemed China to be the “primary source” of the synthetic opioid fentanyl in the United States.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) found a third (21,145) of the unprecedented 64,070 fatal drug overdoses in the United States in 2016 were linked to synthetic opioids like fentanyl.
In its National Security Strategy (NSS), which is mandated by Congress, the Trump administration listed Chinese fentanyl traffickers as a threat to the American homeland along with rogue regimes developing nuclear weapons, rival global powers, and radical Islamist terror groups.
“The illicit opioid epidemic, fed by drug cartels as well as Chinese fentanyl traffickers, kills tens of thousands of Americans each year. These organizations weaken our allies and partners too, by corrupting and undermining democratic institutions,” noted the NSS.
Last month, Trump urged his Chinese counterpart President Xi Jinping to help the United States combat the influx of fentanyl from China. The Chinese leader reportedly agreed.
The Trump administration has declared the opioid epidemic currently gripping the United States a public health emergency.
Heroin and synthetic opioids made up nearly 60 percent of the record number of drug-related fatal overdoses in 2016.