Biden Admin Weighs Dropping Sanctions on China in Exchange for Fentanyl Cooperation

A DEA agent checks pills containing fentanyl (Getty Images)
July 24, 2023

The Biden administration may drop sanctions on a Chinese police forensics institute, allowing it access to U.S. technology, to entice China to cooperate in fighting the fentanyl crisis, sources told the Wall Street Journal.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken during his diplomatic visit to Beijing last month suggested China and the United States create a working group to combat fentanyl. But China has long demanded the United States remove the police institute from its export blacklist before it will cooperate on the drug crisis, and the regime stuck to its position in last month’s meetings. Now, sources told the Journal, the administration is considering complying with China's demand.

The Trump administration blacklisted the Chinese Ministry of Public Security’s Institute of Forensic Science more than three years ago for its role in the surveillance and abuse of Uyghur Muslims in the Xinjiang province. The sanctions tool strictly limits access by backlisted companies and organizations to U.S. technology.

The U.S. ambassador to China recently claimed the country is not responsible for the U.S. fentanyl crisis, despite the fact that nearly all ingredients for the drug are produced in China. The ingredients, often called precursors, are shipped to Mexican cartels that manufacture the fentanyl and push it across the U.S. southern border.

Overdoses from fentanyl have become one of the leading causes of death in the United States. In 2021, there were 71,000 deaths involving synthetic opioids, which were mostly fentanyl.

The Biden administration has fought an amendment to Congress’s annual defense bill seeking new information on China’s responsibility for the crisis.

The discussions are the latest signals of the Biden administration’s bid for cooperation with China. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen dismissed the idea of "decoupling" with China during her visit to the country earlier this month, instead calling for less sweeping policy moves such as "diversifying critical supply chains or taking targeted national security actions." U.S. special envoy on climate John Kerry traveled to China last week seeking cooperation on climate goals but returned home empty-handed.

Published under: China , Fentanyl