U.S. congressional report accuses China of subsidising fentanyl precursors

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16th April 2024 – (Washington) A recent report by the House Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party has sparked controversy by accusing China of subsidising the production and export of precursor chemicals used in the manufacture of fentanyl. This synthetic opioid is at the heart of a devastating addiction and overdose crisis in the United States.

According to the bipartisan committee’s findings, these subsidies are allegedly provided through tax rebates and are directed at the production of not only fentanyl but other synthetic narcotics as well. The report highlighted that many of these substances are prohibited under Chinese law.

The allegations arrive amidst ongoing diplomatic efforts between the U.S. and China to clamp down on the fentanyl trade, following discussions between President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping. The leaders had agreed to enhance cooperation in targeting companies involved in the production of precursor chemicals and to cut off financing for this illegal trade.

In the United States, fentanyl-related substances have been linked to tens of thousands of overdose deaths annually, underlining the gravity of the epidemic. The House committee’s report suggests that the Chinese subsidies are a significant factor in encouraging the global trafficking of these lethal drugs.

The report also raised concerns about the behaviour of Chinese security services, which allegedly have been alerting individuals targeted by U.S. investigations following requests for assistance. Additionally, it claimed that while China censors domestic content related to drug sales, it does not apply the same censorship to content concerning the export-focused narcotics trade.

In response to these challenges, the committee has called for the establishment of a joint task force to specifically target the illicit supply chain of fentanyl. It also advocates for the strengthening of U.S. sanctions authorities to address these concerns more effectively.

The United States has recently taken action by imposing sanctions on networks that profit from the international sale of fentanyl. Talks with China aimed at curbing the production of fentanyl precursors were also resumed earlier this year, highlighting ongoing efforts to tackle this issue at the diplomatic level.

The accusations detailed in the report add another layer of complexity to the already strained relations between Washington and Beijing, with disputes ranging from human rights issues to export controls.

China has consistently denied any involvement in the fentanyl trade, asserting a “zero tolerance” policy towards drugs domestically and suggesting that the roots of the U.S. opioid crisis are internal rather than international.