by Jennie Taer
The Biden administration is set to form a global coalition of countries to target fentanyl trafficking, but it doesn’t appear that China, a major source of the synthetic drug, will participate.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken is expected to host a meeting Friday with representatives from 84 countries to discuss efforts to disrupt the global supply chains of illicit fentanyl, the State Department said Thursday. However, there’s no indication China intends to participate despite the country being the source of precursor chemicals used by the cartels in Mexico to make the synthetic drug.
“We’ve invited China. We don’t have any indication at the moment that they’re going to participate. But what I would say is this is the beginning of the process, and our hope is that all responsible countries will eventually participate between now and over the next year,” Assistant Secretary for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Todd D. Robinson told reporters on a Thursday call.
The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) labeled China as “the primary source of fentanyl and fentanyl-related substances trafficked through international mail and express consignment operations environment, as well as the main source for all fentanyl-related substances trafficked into the United States,” in a 2020 intelligence report.
Fentanyl is largely responsible for the roughly 100,000 drug overdose deaths in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The Department of Treasury announced in late May a sanctions package targeting Chinese individuals and manufacturers involved in fentanyl trafficking to the U.S. China, however, has denied its involvement in the fentanyl crisis happening in the U.S.
Despite China’s role and denial in aiding in supplying fentanyl to the U.S. illicit drug market, Robinson assured reporters that the Chinese government is working with the Biden administration on the issue.
“We have had successful cooperation in the past with the PRC on counternarcotics. And although they may not be engaged in these – they have not engaged with us on this issue in recent months, we continue to actively seek their cooperation both to stop criminal diversion of chemicals to illicitly manufactured fentanyl and other synthetic drugs. We assess that the PRC needs to do more as a global partner to disrupt illicit synthetic drug supply chains, which leads me to the second part: is there any hope?” Robinson said.
“Of course, there’s hope. Just because the PRC is not talking to the United States, they are talking to other countries. And part of the reason we’re trying to bring this coalition together is to engage other countries in their efforts against these supply chains and part of their responsibility is going to be engaging with the PRC. This is not just about the United States and the PRC. This is a global problem that’s going to be – that’s going to require a global response. And having other – just because – we think having other countries engage with the PRC will eventually bear fruit,” Robinson added.
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