Amid the ongoing fentanyl crisis in the United States, Democrat politicians are now joining Republican lawmakers in blaming China for helping to fuel the ongoing crisis.
In a recent Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on countering illicit fentanyl trafficking, New Jersey Democrat Senator and Chairman Bob Menendez said that the U.S. must use “every foreign policy tool” to stop the flow of fentanyl from the U.S.-Mexican border, including asking Mexico to do more to crack down on cartels and confront the Chinese government.
“I doubt Chinese President Xi Jinping cares about his chemical and pharmaceutical industry supplying the Mexican cartels that are flooding the U.S. with fentanyl,” said Mendez.
Idaho Republican Senator James Risch, a ranking member on the committee, said that China is “the primary source of illicit fentanyl and synthetic opioid precursors that the Mexican cartels are using to manufacture lethal drugs.”
“We have a serious threat at the border, and the president needs to be serious about addressing it. The Chinese government’s tacit endorsement of this massive drug trade is a huge issue,” said Risch.
At the hearing, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) leader, Anne Milgram, explained that dealing with the problem meant confronting Mexico and China, including Chinese chemical companies, nationals, chemical brokers, or illicit individuals operating in China, America, or Mexico.
“The historic number of American deaths from drugs, particularly young people being poisoned from fentanyl, and the historic number of illegal aliens and drugs crossing our open border can no longer be ignored,” Lora Ries, Director of the Border Security, and Immigration Center at The Heritage Foundation, said to The Foreign Desk.
According to Ries, the reason why Democrat politicians were hesitant to agree with Republican lawmakers involved a “combination of unwillingness to criticize China or to agree with Republicans or to acknowledge the border crisis.”
According to a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), around 107,600 Americans died of drug overdoses in 2021, with more than 71,200 overdose deaths, including synthetic opioids like fentanyl.
In a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Massachusetts Democratic Congressional Representative David Trone called on him to “prioritize in your discussions the PRC’s role in illicit synthetic opioid trafficking.”
Speaking to reporters and media outlets, Republican and Democratic Senators and House Representatives have said that China is deliberately poisoning Americans with illegal fentanyl coming from the U.S.-Southern Border, with officials like Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio proposing the Felony Murder for Deadly Fentanyl Distribution Act, which would make the distribution of fentanyl fall under felony murder charges.
Last year, China was not designated as a “Major Illicit Drug Production Country,” sparking outrage from Republican and Democrat lawmakers.
The Washington Examiner reported how Chinese money launderers and fentanyl producers went into business with Mexican cartels, generating billions of dollars in pushing fentanyl across the U.S.-Southern border.
Under President Trump, the Chinese government was pressured to outlaw the production of fentanyl. However, labs in Beijing went from creating ingredients for the lethal drug to partnering and expanding cooperation with drug traffickers in Mexico.
In response to the remarks and proposals from American lawmakers, China officials have denied being involved in the spread of fentanyl, arguing instead that lack of economic opportunities and other problems is why young Americans are turning to illegal drugs like fentanyl. Following former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s decision to visit Taiwan in August last year, China suspended its counternarcotics collaboration with the U.S.