China: ‘U.S. Has Its Own Culture to Blame’ for Fentanyl Crisis

China rejects Trump's fentanyl charges as 'groundless'
GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP/Drew Angerer

A senior Chinese official on Tuesday accused the U.S. government of falsely blaming China for the deadly fentanyl crisis and suggested America’s own “culture, policies, and companies” are to blame for thousands of deaths caused by powerful drugs imported from China.

China’s state-run Global Times reported remarks made by Liu Yuejin, deputy director of the National Narcotics Control Commission of China’s Ministry of Public Security, saying:

China has not found a single case of fentanyl smuggling and manufacturing since it enhanced restrictions on May 1, when all fentanyl-related analogs were added to the country’s list of controlled drugs, said Liu.

In recent years, the US has claimed there is evidence that fentanyl has been illegally smuggled out of China and is a major source of the opioid, according to US news reports.  

Liu said the increased restrictions on access to fentanyl in China and the rising number of deaths in the US indicate that China was never a major source of fentanyl in the US.

US law enforcement departments reported that from October 2018 to March 2019, 536 kilograms of fentanyl substances were seized and only 5 kilograms came from China. Authorities made 229 fentanyl busts during that period and only 17 involved Chinese smugglers.

Liu said that although China and the US have cooperated on fighting drug smuggling in recent years, the countries have jointly solved only a limited number of fentanyl cases. 

The US has provided Chinese authorities with only six tips relating to illegal fentanyl smuggling in China since 2012, said Liu. 

“People in the U.S. should not make statements before they examine the facts,” Liu said, dismissing a recent report of over 25 tons of powdered fentanyl from China seized by the Mexican government as “fake news” because the seized shipment of drugs turned out to contain “other chemical products” instead of fentanyl. 

It was not clear what information Liu was referring to when he claimed the drugs seized in Mexico were not fentanyl. The Associated Press and CNN simply skipped over that part of Liu’s press conference. Neither American nor Mexican law enforcement appears to regard the Chinese fentanyl supply as a settled issue, although some Mexican cartels appear to be focusing on importing the necessary chemicals and cooking up the fentanyl themselves.

“The illicit fentanyl that’s coming in, the vast majority is from China and a lot of it is coming in through the mails,” stated U.S. Attorney G. Zachary Terwilliger of the Eastern District of Virginia last week when announcing a three-state drug bust. The case Terwilliger is prosecuting involves at least 30 kilograms of fentanyl and hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash.

At his press conference, Liu accused U.S. officials of “smugly pointing fingers and tarnishing another country’s reputation” instead of cooperating with China and other governments. He did grudgingly concede that some high-profile U.S. sanctions against Chinese nationals for fentanyl trafficking were made before revisions to Chinese law made the substance illegal in May, but dismissed U.S. President Donald Trump’s continued accusations against China as an election-year ploy.

According to the Global Times, Liu claimed greedy U.S. drug companies and lax American attitudes toward drug abuse were more to blame for the opioid crisis than Chinese fentanyl producers. His remarks constantly confused opioids in general with the far deadlier synthetic coming from China, saying:

The US fentanyl abuse problem is rooted in its tradition of using fentanyl substances, said Liu, citing statistics that the US population, which accounts for only 5 percent of world’s population, consumes 80 percent of all opioids.

Liu said US profit-driven drug makers, who sponsor experts to publish research saying that opioids are harmless, should also be held accountable for the country’s opioid crisis. 

The other reasons included the US governments’ loose regulation of opioids and the US cultural background, which relates taking drugs to liberty and individualism. 

Only a few days before Liu’s churlish press conference, Chinese officials held a “working-level” call with their U.S. counterparts in which they claimed progress has been made in reducing outbound fentanyl shipments to the Americas. The Chinese reportedly hoped the Trump administration would judge their progress sufficient to move forward on trade negotiations.

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