US and China to resume stalled fentanyl talks in Beijing

Washington DC - US and Chinese officials will meet in Beijing Tuesday for their first talks in years to stem the production of ingredients for the drug fentanyl, senior Biden administration officials said.

US and Chinese officials are set to meet on Tuesday to discuss stemming the production of ingredients for the drug fentanyl.
US and Chinese officials are set to meet on Tuesday to discuss stemming the production of ingredients for the drug fentanyl.  © Don Emmert / AFP

The meeting of the counter-narcotics working group comes after Chinese President Xi Jinping pledged during a summit with President Joe Biden in November to clamp down on the trade.

"For years, bilateral cooperation between the United States and the People's Republic of China on counternarcotics has been suspended, which has hindered our progress," a US official said.

"But that changed during the November 15 meeting," the official told reporters on condition of anonymity.

Beijing defends China's latest crackdowns in Hong Kong
China Beijing defends China's latest crackdowns in Hong Kong

Washington hopes to get China to cooperate on tackling companies that manufacture the precursor chemicals to make fentanyl, a synthetic opioid many times more powerful than heroin, and on cutting financing for the trade.

Fentanyl has caused an epidemic of addiction in the United States, with 100,000 overdose deaths a year, making it the leading cause of death of people aged 18 to 49, the official said.

Since the summit, China has shut down one company, blocked some international payments, and resumed sharing information on shipments and trafficking, added the official.

US looks to further stabilize relations with China

The meeting, featuring US justice, homeland security, diplomatic, and counternarcotics officials, will focus on "ongoing coordination to support concrete enforcement actions."

Xi said after meeting Biden in California in November that China "deeply sympathizes" with victims of fentanyl.

China and the United States have been trying to stabilize relations after years of tensions, with Beijing's top diplomat Wang Yi and US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan meeting in Bangkok this past week.

Another senior US official said after those talks that cooperation on fentanyl between the two countries "needs to be continuous and ongoing. It's not just one snapshot in time."

Cover photo: Don Emmert / AFP

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