U.S. President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed earlier this week that Beijing will crack down on companies in China that produce precursor chemicals for fentanyl, an agreement that Biden said would "save lives."
China, which is the source of most fentanyl precursors used in the U.S., argued that U.S. export controls have "Severely affected" China's inspection and testing of fentanyl-related substances and impaired its "Goodwill to help the U.S. in drug control," according to the spokesperson of the Chinese Embassy in the United States. Although a cooperative effort to curb the supply of fentanyl brought some results over the years, enthusiasm dampened as tensions grew between China and the U.S. On Aug. 5, 2022 - after then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan, a self-governing island Beijing considers its own - China officially announced the suspension of anti-drug cooperation with the U.S. Here is some background to the Biden-Xi deal. Illegally manufactured fentanyl "Is often added to other drugs because of its extreme potency, which makes drugs cheaper, more powerful, more addictive, and more dangerous," according to the CDC. Fentanyl sold on the black market is often mixed with heroin and/or cocaine to increase a user's sense of euphoria, according to the CDC. Why does the United States care about the fentanyl issue? According to a report by the Congressional Research Service: "Prior to 2019, China was the primary source of U.S.-bound illicit fentanyl, fentanyl-related substances, and production equipment." It said Chinese traffickers supplied fentanyl and fentanyl-related substances to the U.S. via international mail and express consignment operations. In July 2022 testimony, a senior adviser to the Office of National Drug Control Policy stated that as a result, "The direct shipment of fentanyl and fentanyl-related substances from China to the United States went down to almost zero." After China regulated fentanyl-related substances, Mexican transnational criminal organizations became the main operators in the production and distribution of illegal fentanyl in the U.S., according to data from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. Certain precursors used in the production of fentanyl are internationally classified as unscheduled chemicals and legal to produce in China and export.