China sentenced a man to death for producing and selling fentanyl and issued life sentences to his two accomplices, state propaganda outlet Global Times reported Thursday.
Xingtai intermediate court in North China’s Hebei Province imposed the ruling to show China’s “zero-tolerance” policy toward drug-related crimes.
Having produced the product in China, the group then smuggled the opioids into the United States to meet consumer demand. The arrest and consequent prosecution of the traffickers was reportedly a cross-border effort between each country’s law enforcement agencies, with the latter managing to track down the suspects as a result of U.S. intelligence.
After learning about the group’s activities, the U.S. notified Chinese authorities, which propelled them to “take swift action” against the group, while China provided information about suspicious parcels being sent to the U.S. so they could be checked at customs.
According to “experts” who spoke with the Times, “handing death and life sentences to fentanyl sellers and producers signals China’s strong determination for regulating this new kind of drug, besides highlighting the cooperation between China and the U.S. to crack down on an international fentanyl smuggling case.”
Fentanyl is a narcotic 50 times stronger than heroin that has in recent years caused record overdose deaths across America. With Chinese traffickers being one of the largest suppliers of these drugs, Trump has successfully lobbied the Chinese regime to do more to prevent its distribution.
However, Beijing has repeatedly downplayed these claims, instead blaming American culture and lifestyle on people’s addiction to dangerous illegal substances.
State media was also keen to emphasize that China’s crackdown on fentanyl was not an example of Beijing bowing down to President Donald Trump’s threats during trade negotiations, but rather a “consistent policy of the Chinese government to combat the menace of drugs.”
“The cooperation is a highlight of the two countries’ battle to combat the menace of fentanyl smuggling,” the Times insists. “However, some foreign media have been hyping that China sentencing those people is aimed at wooing the US to settle the trade negotiation.”
The article goes on to cite Diao Daming, a U.S. studies expert and an associate professor at Renmin University in China. According to Diao, “Connecting fentanyl with the trade negotiation [indicates] that the U.S. is trying to use it as a bargaining chip in trade negotiations with China.”
Diao explained that the “two things are totally irrelevant and the U.S. understands China’s determination to crack down on fentanyl problems,” before “noting that forcibly bringing the two issues together shows the U.S. is already running out of ways to pressure China.”
“U.S. President Donald Trump has been weaponizing the fentanyl issue with trade negotiations,” the piece concludes. “China has been devoted to regulating the new drug in recent years. ”