Xi Jinping’s first trip abroad was in 1985 to San Francisco. The president of China, then a young politician of 32 years old who was secretary of the Communist Party in a poor county in the north of his country, led a delegation of officials who wanted to learn about agricultural technology. He even stayed overnight with an American family that owned a corn processing plant. Nearly four decades later, Xi returns to San Francisco to meet with his counterpart Joe Biden on Wednesday. On the table, one of the agreements that will be closed will be Beijing’s commitment to help Washington in its war against the fentanyl epidemic.
US officials have announced that China has committed to cracking down once and for all on the companies that from the Asian giant export the chemical precursors necessary to manufacture the deadly synthetic opioid that has caused hundreds of thousands of deaths in the United States.
In the province of Hubei, in central China, there are several companies that have laboratories that produce powdered chemicals, such as 4-piperidone, which end up in the hands of the Mexican cartels of Jalisco and Sinaloa. They make the final product – fentanyl in tablets, pills or powder – and sneak it in the US into food packages or toy bags. According to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Chinese companies that manufacture these chemicals routinely use false return addresses and mislabel products to avoid detection by authorities.
In the midst of the continuous dialectical battle between both countries, the origin of this chain to manufacture fentanyl is what Washington has been clinging to for some time to hold China responsible for a wave of opioids that is the main cause of death among Americans between 18 and 45 years.
In October, the US Department of Justice filed criminal charges against four Chinese companies that manufacture the precursors. Although Washington had previously imposed sanctions against executives and companies from the Asian country, It was the first time he had directly accused them of trafficking within the United States..