Shifting blame to China will make it more difficult for US to solve fentanyl problem
Published: Dec 07, 2023 07:32 PM
Illustration: Chen Xia/Global Times

Illustration: Chen Xia/Global Times

According to the VOA Chinese on Wednesday, FBI Director Christopher Wray maliciously hyped the association between China and illegal drugs such as fentanyl and methamphetamine during a recent hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee. He also exaggerated the situation stating that "over the past two years, we've seized enough fentanyl to kill 270 million people. That's more than 80 percent of all Americans." American politicians are trying to link the fentanyl issue with China in an attempt to shift blame and responsibility. These erroneous views need to be refuted.  

It is not difficult to understand that if fentanyl is used legally as an anesthetic, it can effectively alleviate severe pain during surgical treatment. However, if fentanyl is used improperly or illegally, it can lead to a public health crisis. The high attention paid to fentanyl in various sectors of American society is entirely caused by domestic issues such as drug abuse and inadequate supervision. Now, the FBI director made baseless accusations against China on this issue during a congressional hearing and even expanding the scope to include methamphetamine and other illegal drugs. It is obvious that this is an excuse for the poor performance of relevant US departments and officials in solving this problem. 

With today's many uncertainties and challenges within China-US relationship, functional cooperation between the two countries on transnational or global issues of mutual concern could bring certainty to the relationship beyond political differences. Fentanyl is now a very important and specific area of functional cooperation between China and the US. China has made efforts within its capacity to cooperate with the US in solving this serious problem. However, the US is still using this issue to attack China, which undermines the public opinion environment and only creates obstacles to relevant cooperation.

Linking the US' fentanyl abuse problem with China is largely caused by the polarization of American domestic politics and the Sinophobia sentiment in the US. On one hand, the FBI director's criticism of China during the congressional hearing is a tactic to enhance the FBI's internal standing and expand its intelligence authority. On the other hand, the ongoing struggle between the Democratic and Republican parties in the US Congress has become public, and shifting blame to China makes it easier for the FBI director to evade responsibility. In fact, American politicians receive a large amount of political donations from American pharmaceutical companies, and as a result, the regulation of fentanyl naturally fails. Furthermore, political polarization and the "either I come or no one comes" mentality of the two-party dispute have exacerbated the fentanyl regulation problem in the US. The US should introspect and address the root causes of the issue.

As early as 1996, China included fentanyl in the Catalogue of Narcotic Drugs. China has classified and regulated fentanyl-related substances to deal with the actual harm they can cause and potential threats. In addition, China has always adopted a "zero tolerance" attitude toward drugs, implementing the strictest control and harshest punishment. China not only effectively carries out drug control operational activities domestically, but also assists the international community with a humanitarian attitude, including helping the US with the problem of fentanyl abuse. China has always insisted on adopting a cooperative attitude toward the US in drug control, maintaining communication, dialogue and cooperation with the US. 

Relevant US departments, including the FBI, should think about how to better cooperate with China to combat illegal fentanyl trafficking activities in the US, rather than continuously using the fentanyl issue as a means to smear China. If American politicians truly want to solve the problem of fentanyl abuse domestically, they must first stop pointing fingers at China and sort out its own backyard by strengthening fentanyl regulations, and achieving comprehensive and systematic governance.

The author is vice dean of the Institute of Foreign Security at the China People's Police University. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn