White House trade adviser Peter Navarro told CBS’s Margaret Brennan on Sunday that Chinese fentanyl exports to the U.S. constituted an “act of aggression.”
Navarro tried to justify President Donald Trump’s tariffs on Chinese goods to Brennan on “Face the Nation” Sunday morning by citing transgressions by the Chinese, including Chinese exports of the powerful opioid fentanyl to the U.S.
“It’s important for viewers to understand what we are fighting for,” Navarro said about Trump’s tariffs. “It’s the hacking of computers to see trade secrets. It’s intellectual property theft, the dumping, the state-owned enterprises, currency manipulation.”
After Brennan challenged Navarro on complaints that the trade war with China was hurting American farmers, Navarro said, “Let me say two things. One is the seventh act of aggression, which is the killing of Americans with made-in-China fentanyl and opioids. By the end of the day, it will be over 100. By the end of the week, there will over 1,000. And made-in-China opioids are killing over 50,000 Americans a year. That in and of itself is grounds for a tough stand against China. With respect to the farmers, President Trump has the backs of farmers.” (RELATED: 32 Times The Media Said A Trade War With China Would Torpedo The Economy)
Trump has repeatedly blamed China for the increase in fentanyl-related deaths in the U.S. and the opioid epidemic in the country as a whole. Fentanyl is an opioid estimated to be 50 to 100 times more potent than heroin. Trump declared the opioid epidemic a national emergency in 2017, and he has called attention to the phenomenon of China exporting illicit fentanyl to the U.S. in packages through U.S. mail.
Overdose deaths from opioids, including fentanyl, have increased in the United States over the past several years, with over 60,000 Americans dying from drug overdoses every year. Synthetic opioids like fentanyl are the primary drugs responsible for overdose deaths in the U.S.
China, which is estimated to produce the vast majority of the world’s supply of fentanyl, agreed to crack down on the production of fentanyl in China back in April amidst U.S.-China trade talks.
Navarro’s comments come after Trump announced an additional 10% tariff on $300 billion worth of Chinese imports on August 1. The new tariffs will take effect Sept. 1 on top of the current 25% tariff on $250 billion of imports. (RELATED: Report: China Is Picking Up The Tab For Trump’s Trade War)
The tariffs were put in place by the Trump administration in response to China’s reluctance to renegotiate the state of U.S.-China trade, which Trump has repeatedly criticized as unfair to the U.S.
China has said that it will not negotiate with the U.S. on trade until tariffs are removed.