Biden Admin Touts Progress On Work With China To Combat Fentanyl Crisis – But Experts Say It’s Premature

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  • The Biden administration sees advancements in its counternarcotics collaboration with China, but experts caution that it is still too premature to call it effective.
  • Data is scarce surrounding progress on the Biden administration’s partnership with China on the fentanyl crisis and Beijing is not a very trustworthy ally, the experts told the Daily Caller News Foundation.
  • “The current administration hasn’t even taken the leadership to address the severity of the threat … It’s not serious,” Derek Maltz, former head of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) Special Operations Division, told the DCNF.

The Biden administration feels that progress is being made in its counternarcotics partnership with Beijing, but homeland security and foreign policy experts believe it’s too early to say whether or not the partnership is effective.

The Biden administration set up a counternarcotics “working group” in early February with China, the country chiefly responsible for shipping fentanyl and opioid-related substances into the U.S. and Mexico, in a bid to crack down on the growing opined epidemic. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS), one of the agencies tasked to the working group, feels that progress is being made on pressuring China into halting the flow of these substances, but experts told the Daily Caller News Foundation it would be premature to claim victory as not enough information is yet available and Beijing is not a trustworthy partner. (RELATED: China Continues To Dodge Responsibility For Supplying America’s Fentanyl Crisis Ahead Of High-Level Talks With US)

“If they’re bullish, I’m bearish,” Erin Walsh, senior research fellow for International Affairs at the Heritage Foundation Asian Studies Center, told the DCNF. “If they think that things are coming along, you’ve got to see the facts, and even people in the administration had said when this was set up, ‘Well, we don’t know, we’re going to have to see what’s what happens.’ If they stop sending the precursors, we’re going to know. If they stopped sending the supply the pill presses and the materials that come along with it — that is going to be proof of the pudding.”

DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas met on Sunday with his Chinese counterpart, Wang Xiaohong, and discussed progress being made on curbing the trafficking of fentanyl and precursor chemicals, according to a readout of the meeting. The two agreed to “commitments with respect to continued law enforcement cooperation, technical bilateral exchanges between scientists and other experts, scheduling of precursor chemicals, and furthering multilateral cooperation.”

The House impeached Mayorkas on Feb. 13 over allegations he had abdicated his responsibilities and made misleading statements to Congress. To trust that Mayorkas is performing his duties concerning the counternarcotics working group with Beijing would be misguided, Derek Maltz, former head of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) Special Operations Division, told the DCNF.

“The American public cannot trust Secretary Mayorkas. He’s been lying repeatedly. He’s been impeached by the House. He’s telling the American public that the border is closed or he has some operational control of the border, and everyone in America who has a brain understands this is a blatant lie,” Maltz told the DCNF. “So everything Mayorkas said should be dismissed.”

There is also little data available to back up any claims of substantiated progress in pushing Beijing to curb opioid and fentanyl substance trafficking into the U.S. and Mexico.

The number of fentanyl and opioid-related deaths in the U.S. crossed over 80,000 in 2021, the last year such data was made available, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. There were 129.7 million fentanyl seizures at the southern border in January, which was over 100 million higher than in November, when China first agreed to work with the U.S. in addressing the crisis.

It is also risky to trust Beijing, Walsh and Maltz told the DCNF. China has evaded responsibility for the fentanyl and opioid crisis, even though it is primarily responsible for trafficking such substances and their precursors into the U.S., Mexico and other countries across the globe, and the U.S. has been too “slow to respond,” Maltz said.

“China has initiated a chemical bombing campaign on America and fentanyl is only one part of it,” Maltz told the DCNF, noting that other potent opioids such as isotonitazene, metazine, protonitazene and xylazine are being trafficked out of China and into the U.S.

“We have an ongoing attack on our country to destabilize our communities and our future generation. So they are not believable. They have an unrestricted warfare to go after this country,” he said.

China is a country of secrecy and often evades transparency regarding its intentions. The FBI concluded that the espionage and counterintelligence efforts by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) are “a grave threat to the economic well-being and democratic values of the United States.”

Beijing evaded the truth when it denied its role in the COVID-19 pandemic and covered up information that the virus was spreading within its population and outside the mainland, according to Walsh. (RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: Chinese Drug Dealers Use Risqué Ads To Sell Narcotics, Fentanyl Ingredients On US Social Media)

“China is the one that is responsible for killing 1.1 million Americans with COVID and the cover-up,” Walsh told the DCNF. “So that if you think we can trust them, think again. We can’t trust them.”

Walsh also expressed concern that the Biden administration lifted sanctions against the Chinese Ministry of Public Security’s (MPS) Institute of Forensic Science in November in exchange for China to crack down on fentanyl trafficking. The MPS Institute of Forensic Science has been accused of human rights abuses and aiding Beijing’s effort to persecute Uyghur religious minorities in China and East Asia.

“It came as such a shock that [the Biden administration] would have lifted those sanctions just to get a talk shot [with Beijing]. I mean, it’s stunning,” Walsh told the DCNF. “It was very much a slap in the face to their whole statement about human rights and caring about… the Uyghurs and genocide and everything. It’s extraordinary that they will do that.”

One positive of the working group is that many people involved with it likely have good intentions and seek to make real change, Maltz said, but he also expressed little hope that the group will be effective under the Biden administration’s leadership.

“The current administration hasn’t even taken the leadership to address the severity of the threat … It’s not serious,” Maltz told the DCNF.

Maltz has worked with thousands of families that have been, and still are, impacted by the fentanyl and opioid epidemic. Addressing the issue should not be about taking political sides, he said, but about addressing the fact that the crisis is bleeding the country.

“This is not a red or a blue issue,” Maltz told the DCNF.  “It’s a red, white and blue issue.”

The number of overdoses in the U.S. resulting from fentanyl and opioid use has roughly quadrupled since 2010, from approximately 21,000 to more than 80,000.

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