Biden Administration Draws Criticism for Lifting Sanctions on Chinese Institute in Fentanyl Deal

Frank Fang
By Frank Fang
November 17, 2023China News
Biden Administration Draws Criticism for Lifting Sanctions on Chinese Institute in Fentanyl Deal
U.S. President Joe Biden speaks during the APEC CEO Summit at Moscone West in San Francisco, Calif., on Nov. 16, 2023. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

The Biden administration on Thursday removed a Chinese forensic police institute accused of human rights violations from a trade sanction list in a deal to get China’s communist regime to do more to halt its outflow of fentanyl precursors.

The Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security added China’s Ministry of Public Security’s Institute of Forensic Science (IFS) to its Entity List in 2020, accusing it of being “complicit in human rights violations and abuses committed in China’s campaign of repression, mass arbitrary detention, forced labor and high-technology surveillance” against Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in China’s far-western Xinjiang region.

On Wednesday, President Joe Biden met with Chinese Communist Party (CCP) leader Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum. As part of the deal, Beijing agreed in principle to restrict the export of chemicals used in manufacturing fentanyl, which is causing a wave of deadly overdoses in the United States.

Mexican cartels have been buying precursor chemicals from China to make fentanyl and then shipping finished products to the United States. In 2022, 73,654 deaths in the United States were attributed to fentanyl overdose, twice as many as in 2019.

‘Barrier to Achieving Cooperation’

On Nov. 16, State Department spokesperson Matt Miller told reporters in a briefing that removing the IFS from the trade sanction list was necessary.

“The continued listing of the IFS on the Commerce Entity List was a barrier to achieving cooperation on stopping the trafficking of precursor chemicals,” Mr. Miller said, before adding that “it was a top priority” for Secretary of State Antony Blinken and the president to stop the trafficking of fentanyl precursors out of China.

Mr. Miller continued, “When we evaluated the issue and looked at all the merits of delisting the IFS, ultimately we decided that given the steps China was willing to take to cut down on precursor trafficking, it was an appropriate step to take.”

When asked if removing IFS from the list would “raise questions about U.S. commitment to human rights and all abuse against Uyghurs and minority groups,” Mr. Miller said the administration is committed to human rights and President Biden had raised concerns about the Chinese regime’s human rights practices when meeting with Mr. Xi on Wednesday.

He added, “We have to make tough decisions in this administration, and the decision that we made was that when you looked at the potential of saving American lives by securing this cooperation with China on fentanyl, on fentanyl trafficking, it was an appropriate step to take.”


The Biden administration has since drawn criticism for its decision.

Rayhan Asat, a human rights lawyer of Uyghur heritage and nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, called the decision “insulting.”

“Biden traded the very entity it listed for putting Uyghurs in the concentration camps on the Commerce Department sanction list for China’s cooperation on Fentenal. I understand the priority, but why sacrifice #Uyghurs given it’s a bipartisan & genocide?” Ms. Asat wrote on Thursday in a post on X, formerly Twitter.

The U.S. government has formally declared the Chinese regime’s treatment of Uyghurs in Xinjiang as “genocide” and “crimes against humanity.” More than 1 million Uyghurs are locked up in internment camps, where detainees are subjected to forced labor, torture, political indoctrination, forced abortion, and other inhuman treatments.

In an X post, the Washington-based advocacy group Uyghur Human Rights Project noted that the IFS “possess DNA of millions of Uyghurs—collected in 2016 without adequate consent.”

Kenneth Roth, former executive director of Human Rights Watch and visiting professor at  Princeton University’s School of Public and International, called the administration’s decision “a bribe” to China.

“As a bribe to gain the Chinese government’s support for curtailing fentanyl (which it should be doing anyway), Biden lifts sanctions on an institute of China’s Ministry of Public Security that the U.S. had determined was complicit in the mass persecution of Uyghurs,” Mr. Roth wrote on X on Thursday.

According to a notice posted in the Federal Register, the removal came after a “removal proposal” was received and reviewed by an end-user review committee. According to the Bureau of Industry and Security, the committee comprises representatives from the departments of State, Defense, Energy, Commerce, and other agencies.

From The Epoch Times

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