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China, US Join Forces in Fentanyl Fight, Raising Trade Hopes

Covid-19, trade rows, Taiwan and human rights have all hampered Washington’s efforts to persuade China to help it stop the flow of fentanyl into the US

Plastic bags of Fentanyl are displayed on a table at the US Customs and Border Protection area at the International Mail Facility at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago, Illinois, US. Photo: Reuters


The US and China have launched a joint counter-narcotics working group to help tackle the fentanyl crisis in the States, in a move that is being as hugely significant after years of tension between the two superpowers

It follows a key summit in San Francisco in November where US President Joe Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping agreed to work to curb fentanyl production and exports.

Fentanyl is a highly addictive synthetic opioid 50 times more potent than heroin. The US says China is the primary source of the precursor chemicals synthesised into fentanyl by drug cartels in Mexico. China denies this.

“We had in depth communication and were pragmatic. We reached common understanding on the work plan,” China’s Minister of Public Security Wang Xiaohong said at a joint address with the US delegation before the group’s inauguration in Beijing.


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He added that he hoped the two sides could accommodate each other’s concerns and “enhance and expand cooperation to provide more positive energy for stable, sound and sustainable China-US relations.”

Ties between the two countries have been tense in recent years over a range of issues including the origins of Covid-19, trade tariffs, Taiwan and human rights, hampering Washington’s hopes of getting China to re-join its efforts to stop the flow of fentanyl into the United States.

In November 2019, in an unusual disclosure of Sino-US cooperation in cracking down on fentanyl crimes, Chinese and US law enforcement jointly announced that they had worked together to break up a fentanyl smuggling ring.

But Sino-US cooperation in narcotics fizzled out when Covid-19 arrived, and multiple geopolitical headwinds pushed bilateral ties to their lowest in decades.


  • Reuters with additional editing by Sean O’Meara


Read more:

US Sanctions 8 Chinese Drug Companies for Fentanyl Trade

Fentanyl Chemicals Don’t Come From China, Beijing Tells US

China Chemical Firms Hit With First-Ever US Fentanyl Charges



Sean O'Meara

Sean O'Meara is an Editor at Asia Financial. He has been a newspaper man for more than 30 years, working at local, regional and national titles in the UK as a writer, sub-editor, page designer and print editor. A football, cricket and rugby fan, he has a particular interest in sports finance.


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