US Lifts Sanctions on Chinese Institute to Seek Fentanyl Cooperation

US Lifts Sanctions on Chinese Institute to Seek Fentanyl Cooperation – On Thursday, the United States took the Institute of Forensic Science (IFS) of the Chinese Ministry of Public Security off a trade sanctions list, signaling a move towards enhanced cooperation on counternarcotics. This decision aligns with ongoing negotiations between the Biden administration and China, focusing on resuming bilateral collaboration and forming a working group to address the influx of synthetic drugs and precursor chemicals fueling the fentanyl crisis in the U.S.

“The continued listing of the IFS on the Commerce Entity List was a barrier to achieving cooperation on stopping the trafficking of precursor chemicals,” U.S. State Department spokesperson Matt Miller said during a briefing on Thursday. “When we evaluated the issue and looked at all the merits of de-listing 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 remove the Chinese institute from Washington’s sanction list, Miller told reporters.

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“We have to make tough decisions in this administration” to secure cooperation with China on fentanyl trafficking, Miller said in a statement. In 2020, the U.S. Commerce Department added China’s Institute of Forensic Science on its entity list for “engaging in activities contrary to the foreign policy interests of the United States” and over alleged abuses against Uyghurs and other minority groups.  

This action essentially barred the institute from obtaining the majority of goods from U.S. suppliers. Concerns have been raised by human rights advocates, questioning Washington’s commitment to addressing China’s human rights practices following the decision to lift the trade sanctions on the Chinese institute. 

Fentanyl stands as the leading cause of death among Americans aged 18 to 49. Currently, China remains the primary origin of fentanyl and related substances trafficked through international mail and express consignment operations, serving as the main contributor to all such substances entering the United States, as stated by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

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During talks between President Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping in Woodside, California, on Wednesday, on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meetings, both leaders agreed to recommence bilateral cooperation in combating global illicit drug manufacturing and trafficking. This encompasses synthetic drugs like fentanyl, with plans to establish a working group for ongoing communication and coordination in law enforcement efforts against counternarcotics issues.

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