President Joe Biden’s Ambassador to China Nicholas Burns said in comments published Thursday that China’s government is “not contributing” to the fentanyl epidemic in the United States.
The State Department has repeatedly lamented that Beijing is not doing enough to stem the tide of fentanyl flowing into the United States. But Burns’ remarks seemingly suggest the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is not directly responsible for the issue, and that the blame lies instead with non-government actors.
Daily Caller Reporter @Dylan_Housman Presses State Department Spokesman on China ‘Not Contributing’ to Stem the Flow of Fentanyl Into The United States
HOUSMAN: “It is something you expect the Chinese Government…to play a bigger role in?”
SPOKESMAN: “It is one of the many… pic.twitter.com/Oyzft2UQH3
— Daily Caller (@DailyCaller) May 4, 2023
“Can we work on the fentanyl problem? The government here in Beijing is not contributing to that problem,” Burns said while listing some of the most critical aspects of the U.S.-China relationship. “But black-market Chinese firms are and they’re shipping illicit precursor chemicals to the drug cartels in Mexico and Central America that make the fentanyl that poisons and often kills Americans.”
China is among the primary suppliers of fentanyl precursor chemicals to Mexico, where the drug is synthesized and then smuggled across the southern border of the United States. More than 70,000 Americans were killed by synthetic opioid overdoses in 2021, an increase from roughly 57,000 in 2020. (RELATED: Mexican President Denies Fentanyl Is Produced In Mexico In Factually-Challenged Letter To Xi Jinping)
The Biden administration has repeatedly called on China to do more to crack down on fentanyl precursor chemicals, but the State Department has claimed China is unwilling to engage substantially on the issue despite scheduling fentanyl itself as a drug in 2021. Recent tensions over a Chinese spy balloon in U.S. airspace and U.S. support for Taiwan has exacerbated the issue further.
State Department Principal Deputy Spokesman Vedant Patel said Thursday that he wasn’t going to “parse” the Ambassador’s words, but that combatting the fentanyl epidemic continues to be an issue the administration would like to cooperate with China on.