Liu Yuejin, deputy chief of China’s National Narcotics Control Commission, the country’s top drug law enforcement agency, said at a press conference in Beijing on Tuesday that the number of investigative leads on fentanyl being trafficked to the US had decreased.
“(There hasn’t been) a single lead since May 1. Meanwhile, fentanyl-related deaths in the US have risen further,” he said Tuesday.
“These two points clearly show that President Trump’s tweets about fentanyl in the US mainly coming from China are not true at all.”
Trump has long pressured the Chinese government to take action against imports of fentanyl into the United States. An extremely potent synthetic opioid, 60 times stronger than heroin, fentanyl and its derivatives were behind close to 30,000 of the 72,000 overdose deaths in the US in 2017, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
In April, the Chinese government announced it would add the entire class of fentanyl-related substances to their list of controlled drugs from May 1, a win for Trump and his administration.
But in August, Trump appeared to lose patience with the speed of the crackdown. “I am ordering all carriers … to search for and refuse all deliveries of fentanyl from China,” the US leader tweeted on August 23.
“Fentanyl kills 100,000 Americans a year. President Xi said this would stop – it didn’t!”
On August 24, the US Office of National Drug Control Policy tweeted that China “continues to pour poison into our communities.”
The issue has become part of the ongoing trade war between the two countries, with Trump using Xi’s alleged failure to follow through on his promise as one reason to impose further tariffs on China.
Drug enforcement chief Liu said that the Trump administration shouldn’t bring the fentanyl discussion into trade talks, adding both sides were still cooperating to stop drug smuggling.
“Without resolving the issue of domestic fentanyl demand, without carefully studying the sources of its fentanyl, the US has pointed the finger at China and poured dirty water on China,” he said.
“That’s not the right attitude to resolve a problem, not to mention the deliberate linking of the fentanyl issue to China-US trade talks, which are two completely unrelated issues.”
Liu said that since 2012, China has provided US drug law enforcement authorities with 383 leads on fentanyl-related packages.
“Despite the hostile waves stirred by some US politicians, it hasn’t affected the good cooperation between Chinese and US law enforcement agencies on crack down on fentanyl trafficking, including intelligence sharing and joint case investigations,” he said.
On allegations that Chinese-produced fentanyl products were instead now entering the US through Mexico, Liu said there was no basis for the allegations.
“Police from the three countries have not detected or cracked a single such case. Then what is the basis for the conclusion drawn by certain US politicians? They have sat at home and imagined such things out of thin air,” he said.