China hits back at Donald Trump’s fentanyl claim, saying US ‘only has itself to blame’ for opioid crisis
- State media says Beijing ‘has made unprecedented efforts’ to address the problem and the number of trafficking cases to the US is ‘very small’
- It comes after Trump accused China of failing to stop the sale of the synthetic painkiller to America
Chinese state media has hit back at US President Donald Trump’s accusation that China had failed to stop the sale of painkiller fentanyl to America, saying Beijing had done its part and the US “only has itself to blame” for the opioid crisis.
In a commentary on Sunday, state news agency Xinhua rejected Trump’s claim in a tweet last week, calling it “blatant slander”.
“Chinese law enforcement has uncovered cases of illegal processing or trafficking of fentanyl-like substances to the United States, but the number [of such cases] is very small – it is impossible for China to be a major source of fentanyl-like substances in the United States.”
It said four cases of fentanyl being trafficked from China to the US had been reported in the second quarter of the year by the US customs authority, citing US Drug Enforcement Administration data.
According to the commentary, that indicated the “flow of fentanyl-like substances to the United States from China, which was already low, has significantly declined”.
The state media offensive came after senior officials in Beijing also dismissed Trump’s accusation. Liu Yuejin, deputy director of the National Narcotics Control Commission, told state broadcaster CCTV on Saturday that “in fact, compared to the US controls on fentanyl ingredients, our country has much stricter rules”.
Derek Scissors, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute think tank, said that scepticism was well placed.
“What the Chinese have effectively said is we should forget what they said just a few months ago. If they don’t like the trade situation, the fentanyl and related products will continue to flow,” he said.
Fentanyl is an opioid painkiller 50 times more potent than heroin, and has a central role in the devastating US opioid crisis. In the US, fentanyl and all of its analogues are controlled substances subject to strict regulation. More than 28,000 synthetic opioid-related overdose deaths, mostly from fentanyl-related substances, were recorded in 2017, according to the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.
Additional reporting by Reuters