Biden eases sanctions to gain China’s help on drug crisis

Lazy eyes listen


President Joe Biden’s administration has lifted trade restrictions on the Chinese government’s forensic science institute as part of an effort to urge Beijing to assist in preventing the importation of fentanyl and its precursor chemicals into the United States.

The institute’s removal from the blacklist was confirmed on Thursday in a notice issued to the Federal Register by numerous US agencies. The announcement came just one day after Biden met with Chinese President Xi Jinping in the San Francisco Bay area, where the two leaders vowed to continue collaboration between their governments in combating synthetic opioid and other drug trafficking.

In 2020, Washington placed the Chinese Ministry of Public Security’s Institute of Forensic Science on its sanctions list to penalise Beijing for alleged abuses of China’s Uyghur ethnic minority. The penalty effectively prohibited most US suppliers from sending items to the institute. Qin Gang, China’s then-ambassador to the US, later criticised the move, claiming that Washington was asking for aid tackling America’s drug epidemic while penalising an entity critical to combating fentanyl trafficking.

US politicians have repeatedly criticised China for contributing to the opioid problem in the United States, which would result in roughly 110,000 overdose deaths by 2022. Senator Chuck Schumer, who visited Beijing last month, alleged that Chinese corporations were “fueling” the crisis by supplying ingredients for synthetic opioid manufacture in Mexico. Chinese officials have argued that the problem is “rooted” in the US, where the government has failed to stop illegal drug use.

Republican senators and other Biden critics slammed the move to lift sanctions on Beijing, claiming that there is no guarantee that Xi’s government will actually cooperate in halting the fentanyl influx. “President Biden is willing to negotiate away critical human rights sanctions for a deal with China,” said Iowa Republican Senator Joni Ernst.

According to the Uyghur Human Rights Project, the forensic science institute was “clearly complicit” in human rights violations. “It would send the wrong message to lift sanctions on the forensic institute, which has been implicated in the involuntary collection of DNA from Tibetans and Uyghurs,” said Louisa Greve, director of worldwide advocacy for the UHRP.