China and the United States are set to reinitiate discussions in Beijing to address the escalating crisis of fentanyl, a synthetic opioid more potent than heroin, responsible for an alarming epidemic of addiction in the United States.
With an annual toll of 100,000 overdose deaths, fentanyl stands as the leading cause of mortality among individuals aged 18 to 49, as highlighted by US officials.
In an effort to combat this crisis, the United States aims to secure China’s cooperation in curbing the production of precursor chemicals utilized in fentanyl manufacturing and cutting financial support for this illicit trade. The resumption of talks on Tuesday will involve high-level officials from the State Department, Treasury, Department of Homeland Security, and Justice Department.
The United States envisions the meeting as a pivotal platform fostering ongoing coordination to address the illicit production, financing, and distribution of drugs. Notably, China, in response to President Xi Jinping’s commitment made during a November summit with US President Joe Biden, has undertaken measures to align with these objectives.
The details of China’s representation in the talks remain undisclosed. However, the commitment made during the summit has already manifested in the closure of one company, the obstruction of certain international payments, and the resumption of information-sharing on shipments and trafficking.
“For years, bilateral cooperation between the United States and the People’s Republic of China on counternarcotics has been suspended, hindering our progress,” stated a US official, noting a positive shift post the November 15 meeting between the leaders.