Remarks by the Spokesperson of the Chinese Embassy in the United States on the Fentanyl Issue
2021/09/02

Narcotic drugs are a common enemy of mankind. The Chinese government takes a "zero tolerance" attitude to drugs. It has been rigorously combating drug production, trafficking and other kinds of drug crimes. The Chinese side empathizes with the American people who are suffering from the opioid crisis, and has been offering sincere and law-based assistance to the international community, including the United States, in dealing with fentanyl abuse.

From 2017 to 2018, China scheduled six fentanyl substances and 2 precursor chemicals in two actions, which was more than the number of varieties listed by the United Nations at that time. On May 1, 2019, the Chinese government took the lead globally in officially scheduling fentanyl substances as a class, though there was no large-scale abuse or prominent hazards of them in China. This is an important step to implement the agreement between the two Presidents, and also a show of goodwill to address American people’s concern and do what we can to help the US in tackling its opioid crisis, with a view to the health, safety and wellbeing of the entire mankind. In contrast, as the biggest producer and user of fentanyl drugs in the world, the US has a fentanyl problem more rampant than other countries, but it has not officially scheduled fentanyl substances permanently yet. The reasons behind are worth pondering. Here, we urge the US side to permanently schedule fentanyl substances as soon as possible.

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2020, the number of drug overdose deaths in the United States reached a record high of 93,000, among which 69,700 were caused by opioids overdose, up by over 30% year-on-year. Against the backdrop of increasingly strict control of fentanyl substances in the world, including in China, America’s worsening fentanyl crisis and rising deaths resulting from it have shown that it has not addressed the crux of the problem. China advised the US side, out of goodwill and for many times, to strengthen supervision and regulation of fentanyl related prescription and raise public awareness about it, which have been proved worldwide to be effective solutions.

Since the class scheduling of fentanyl substances, the National Narcotics Control Commission and the Ministry of Public Security of China have maintained close, candid and in-depth coordination with American partners, including the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, the International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs Bureau of the State Department and the Drug Enforcement Administration. Meanwhile, China has also made every effort on the formulation of related legal documents, inspection and examination, as well as investigation into and crackdown on online fentanyl sales. In particular, the postal and parcel industry is mandated to take specific measures aimed at combating the trafficking of fentanyl substances and other scheduled chemicals, such as asking for real names of senders and receivers, checking the parcel contents, using security screening equipment for security checks, and strengthening inspection on cross-border parcels to certain destinations such as the United States. These measures have produced notable results and have been widely recognized by US law enforcement partners, who have expressed appreciation on many occasions and called drug control a highlight in our bilateral law enforcement cooperation. According to the latest briefing from the US side, since September 2019, the US has not seized any fentanyl and its analogues originating from China. Wang Fengxi and Chen Jianping, whose cases had been jointly investigated by the Chinese and US sides, were given heavy sentences for their fentanyl-related crimes respectively in November 2019 and May 2021. The US side was invited to attend the announcements of their sentencing in Xingtai, Hebei Province and Shanghai, which demonstrated China’s determination to bring the violators of drug control laws to justice.

At the same time, China attaches great importance to multilateral international cooperation in drug control, and has been actively participating in global drug governance. China has scheduled fentanyl as a class, much more than the categories scheduled by the UN Conventions on drug control. On July 1, 2021, China class scheduled synthetic cannabinoids. 18 other new psychoactive substances, such as fluoroketamine, were also scheduled. Six chemicals, including Methyl α-phenylacetoacetate (MAPA), will be listed as precursor chemicals on September 20. China has never stopped its efforts to exercise strict and law-based control on precursor chemicals, and will schedule other related categories in a timely manner based on serious and science-based evaluation. China is a country based on rule of law. Whoever violate Chinese laws will be brought to justice, no matter what means they may use to escape punishment.

However, it is disappointing that for all the goodwill and sincerity of the Chinese side, for all its strenuous efforts and huge sacrifices, as well as the great achievements of China-US cooperation in drug control, some American politicians and media are still hyping up such disinformation as "American fentanyl mainly origins from China", "Chinese fentanyl precursors flow into the United States via Mexico". They even claim that China often delays the requests from the US side. These assertions are highly irresponsible and utterly false. Up to now, China has not found any scheduled precursor chemicals trafficked to Mexico, or received any notification from the Mexican side about seizing scheduled chemicals originating from China. Such made-up allegations show zero sense of responsibility towards American fentanyl abuse victims and their families, and seriously mislead the Chinese and American people. They are not in the least helpful for the United States to solve its drug problem and should be rectified as soon as possible.

In addition, on May 22, 2020, without any evidence, the US Department of Commerce added the Institution of Forensic Science of the Ministry of Public Security and the National Narcotics Laboratory into its "entity list". This action has seriously affected China’s examination and identification of fentanyl substances and hindered the operation of its fentanyl monitoring system. China has expressed serious concern and protest to the US side through various channels, as it has greatly affected China's goodwill to help the US in fighting drugs. China urges the US side to correct this wrong practice as soon as possible.

The Chinese government has taken a consistent and resolute stance on drug control. We are ready to work with various countries, including the United States, to establish cooperative relations featuring equality, mutual trust and win-win, pragmatically carry out sharing of intelligence, exchange of investigation leads and joint investigation, promote international co-governance on the fentanyl issue, share experience in drug control, and address the drug problems together, with a view to contributing Chinese wisdom and efforts to global drug control for the benefit of people of all countries. At the same time, we want to remind the US side that the root cause of its fentanyl abuse problem is in itself. Blaming others is not conducive to solving the problem. It would be purely wrong to groundlessly criticize China and spread disinformation while appreciating China for support and help. This would only set up obstacles to our cooperation. It is hoped that the US side will face up to its own problems, come up with practical solutions, and learn from international experience to safeguard the health and wellbeing of the American people. We sincerely hope that the United States can solve its opioid abuse crisis at an early date.

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