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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

U.S.-China fentanyl talks off to a ‘productive’ start – security advisor

The U.S. and China are tackling the fentanyl crisis head-on, setting the stage for the launch of the U.S.-China Counternarcotics Working Group. The goal is to reduce the illicit supplies of fentanyl, an addictive synthetic opioid that has led to tens of thousands of overdose deaths each year in the U.S.

In their first day of talks, U.S. Deputy Assistant to the President and Deputy Homeland Security Advisor Jen Daskal, described the discussions as “productive.” She emphasized the importance of visible results and the need to take action. Daskal recognized the risk that China could use its significant influence over the fentanyl supply chain as a bargaining chip.

The talks come amid ongoing tensions between the two countries, making the cooperation on the fentanyl crisis a notable area of mutual interest and agreement. Despite the challenges, both parties are committed to working together to address the issue.

The establishment of a working group on drug control was previously agreed upon by U.S. President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping during their meeting in San Francisco. The cooperation is a significant step forward in addressing the complex nature of the fentanyl crisis.

In a statement after the meeting, China’s National Narcotics Control Commission Director Wang Xiaohong expressed his hope for both sides to contribute to the stable development of U.S.-China relations, injecting more positive energy into the bilateral relationship.

The Biden administration’s removal of the Ministry of Public Security’s Institute of Forensic Science of China from a blacklist known as the entity list further signals a positive turn in the effort to address the fentanyl crisis. This action allows China’s National Narcotics Lab to repair or obtain new equipment, ultimately reducing delays in research.

Leaders of both delegations acknowledged that there’s still more work to be done in addressing the factors fueling the fentanyl crisis. Daskal emphasized the need to diminish the supply of precursor drugs and the equipment used to manufacture deadly drugs. This issue is not just about one side taking action, but rather a collective effort to address both the supply and demand aspects of the problem.

Overall, the working group’s launch signifies a new chapter in U.S.-China relations, highlighting the potential for collaboration on critical issues despite broader geopolitical tensions. The commitment to tackling the fentanyl crisis together demonstrates that even in the face of challenges, both sides can find common ground and work toward shared goals.

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