China Knows How to Stop Fentanyl But Is ‘Perfectly Okay’ Letting It Flow to US: Krishnamoorthi

Ryan Morgan
By Ryan Morgan
April 17, 2024China News
China Knows How to Stop Fentanyl But Is ‘Perfectly Okay’ Letting It Flow to US: Krishnamoorthi
Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.) speaks to members of the press after a members-only classified briefing on TikTok at the Capitol Visitor Center on Capitol Hill in Washington on March 12, 2024. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

As the United States deals with tens of thousands of fentanyl overdoses each year, Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.) is pointing to China’s comparative lack of fentanyl deaths as a sign that the Chinese government knows how to address the problem domestically but enables the potent opioid to keep flowing outside its borders.

The House Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) held a hearing on Tuesday to discuss the CCP’s apparent role in the global fentanyl trade and its deadly impacts.

Mr. Krishnamoorthi, the committee’s ranking member, presented a slide during the Tuesday hearing citing Chinese government figures that indicated China recorded zero fentanyl deaths in the year 2022. By comparison, Mr. Krishnamoorthi’s slide noted figures shared by the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), indicating 76,000 fentanyl-related deaths occurred in the United States that same year.

In addition to the slide comparing Chinese and U.S. fentanyl death figures, the Illinois lawmaker noted another U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration figure attributing 97 percent of the illicit fentanyl that enters the United States to entities operating in the People’s Republic of China (PRC).

“It shows that they know how to prosecute drug traffickers and get rid of fentanyl, certainly for a domestic audience, but they’re perfectly okay with having it exported from China over here,” Mr. Krishnamoorthi told NTD News from the sidelines of the hearing on Tuesday.

Mr. Krishnamoorthi and committee chairman Mike Gallagher (R-Wisc.) recently concluded a multi-month investigation into China’s role as a source for global fentanyl exports. Their report concludes the PRC government, through its ruling CCP, has provided numerous economic incentives to PRC-based firms producing fentanyl and other synthetic narcotics.

The Illinois congressman insisted the Chinese government has not been sufficiently cooperative with U.S. law enforcement agencies and officials seeking to address the illicit fentanyl trade within the United States.

“They’re not taking down websites and web postings that clearly are selling Chinese fentanyl from China. And they’re there subsidizing it through these tax rebates, which you know, just fuel the whole ecosystem,” he said. “So when you have 97 percent of illicit fentanyl here coming from China, we know where we need to go to kind of stop the supply problem.”

The new House report states that Chinese authorities have thwarted past U.S. law enforcement investigations into Chinese entities suspected of engaging in illicit fentanyl manufacture. The report states multiple current and former U.S. federal agents described instances where Chinese counterparts notified targets of U.S. investigations, and they were then able to change their techniques to avoid detection. In other instances, the report alleges Chinese authorities would delay U.S. requests for access to inspect and investigate suspected drug manufacturing sites, “allowing any illegal operation to vacate or clean up the premises.”

President Joe Biden’s administration launched a U.S.-PRC Bilateral Counternarcotics Working Group in January as part of a joint effort to slow the flow of illicit narcotics from China into the United States. It’s unclear if the concerns raised by the new House report have improved with the formation of this working group.

Addressing the new U.S. congressional report on Wednesday, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Lin Jian claims China has taken numerous steps to stop illicit narcotics production.

“China’s counter-narcotics authorities fight the illicit diversion of precursor chemicals in strict accordance to law,” the Chinese spokesperson said in a press conference.

Lawmakers Seek New Sanctions to Stop Drug Flow From China

The House CCP Committee’s new report offers a range of policy recommendations to slow the flow of illicit narcotics from China, including raising new sanctions against Chinese chemical companies.

The report notes that Chinese chemical companies, unlike transnational drug cartels, are uniquely vulnerable to sanctions because they have other, and potentially more valuable, legitimate business interests to protect.

“You’ve got to have economic sanctions. especially on those businesses that are ‘doing legitimate business’ and then using fentanyl as a side hustle right,” Mr. Krishnamoorthi said. “They are the most vulnerable to sanctions and so we’ve got to give sanctions authority for those businesses.”

The House report also recommends renewed efforts to close “regulatory and enforcement gaps” within the United States that help Chinese firms operate illicit narcotics operations. Specifically, the House report states the U.S. Department of the Treasury should require the operators of Chinese applications that include money transmitting and payment features to register as money services businesses with the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN). Further, the report says PRC online retailers and other PRC-based e-commerce applications and sites should be required to restrict the online sale of fentanyl precursors or face penalties within the United States.

ntd newsletter icon
Sign up for NTD Daily
What you need to know, summarized in one email.
Stay informed with accurate news you can trust.
By registering for the newsletter, you agree to the Privacy Policy.