A delegation of U.S. senators recently visited Beijing with a glimmer of hope to initiate government talks with China regarding its role in the ongoing fentanyl crisis plaguing America.
Led by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, the group consisted of three Democrats and three Republicans. Schumer revealed that Chinese President Xi Jinping had shown willingness to consider appointing a high-level official for discussions on the matter.
During their stay in China, Schumer stated, “I asked him directly to do that, and he didn’t say no. He didn’t,” indicating Xi’s potential willingness to engage. Schumer further highlighted that Xi refrained from making demands such as the removal of sanctions before engaging in talks, which can be viewed as a positive development.
However, China has maintained its refusal to hold discussions on fentanyl until the United States lifts trade restrictions imposed on a Chinese police forensics science institute in 2020. This indicates the significant deterioration of U.S.-China relations in recent times.
China previously took steps to eliminate fentanyl production within its borders after earlier discussions with the U.S. Nonetheless, the U.S. alleges that Chinese companies are now supplying chemical ingredients for fentanyl to Mexican drug cartels.
The visit by this congressional delegation marks the first since 2019, along with recent visits by the U.S. Secretary of State and Treasury Secretary. These interactions have sparked hope that the two countries can at least find a way to stabilize their relationship. Both parties are currently working on arranging a meeting between President Xi and U.S. President Joe Biden next month.
During their meetings with Chinese officials, the senators primarily focused on trade and the fentanyl crisis.
Senator Maggie Hassan, a Democrat from New Hampshire, expressed that she dedicated a significant portion of her time to discussing the fentanyl issue. “I wanted to inform the Chinese officials about how this epidemic has impacted my small state,” she explained, emphasizing that it affects approximately 1.4 million people and leads to roughly 500 overdose deaths annually.
Progress Made in Talks with China on Fentanyl Issue
The recent meetings between U.S. senators and Chinese President Xi Jinping have yielded more progress on the fentanyl crisis than initially expected, according to U.S. Ambassador to China, Nicholas Burns. Despite facing previous challenges in addressing the issue, Burns credits the senators’ impactful stories of the impact of fentanyl on their communities and acquaintances for inciting sympathy from the Chinese side.
An Uphill Battle
Although there seems to be a willingness to find a resolution, addressing the fentanyl crisis is far from an easy task. The Chinese media’s coverage of the meetings merely touched on the fentanyl issue, highlighting the complexity of the situation. Republican Senator Bill Cassidy highlighted that disagreements arose during the talks, particularly concerning China’s ability to control the crisis.
A Call for Cooperation
During the discussions, President Xi suggested that the United States should also look within its borders to understand the reasons behind the fentanyl epidemic. The Chinese government spokespersons have emphasized that blaming others for policy failures is not productive. In response, Senator Hassan reiterated the significant steps taken by the United States in tackling the problem, emphasizing the need for China to acknowledge its role and work collaboratively.
Ongoing Concerns with Opioids
In related news surrounding opioids:
- A study reveals a staggering 450% increase in crypto payments to Chinese fentanyl suppliers over the past year.
- Senator Elizabeth Warren highlights the role of cryptocurrency in funding the fentanyl trade, calling for stricter regulations.
- The older generation is not exempt from the devastating effects of opioid abuse.
These developments underscore the ongoing need for cooperative efforts to combat the fentanyl crisis and effectively address the broader issue of opioid abuse.