America’s Fentanyl Problem: China Can Turn Off The Tap – If It Wants


In 2017, Islamic insurgents in Niger ambushed and killed a four-man US Special Forces team.  It was front-page news and considered a catastrophe. 

That same year, over 28,000 Americans died of overdoses involving the synthetic drug, fentanyl.  Yet, it seemed less of an attention-getter in Washington – and still does – even as the death toll mounts.

The fentanyl mostly comes from the People’s Republic of China – although the media usually downplays or ignores this point – seemingly afraid to mention the ‘C’ word.

The Washington Post did recently publish an article by well-regarded reporter and China expert, John Pomfret, explaining why the Chinese government does not stop the fentanyl flow – despite promising the U.S .Government it would do so.

However, Post editors may have taken a hacksaw to the piece, as it reads like an uncritical listing of PRC (People’s Republic of China) talking points. Readers might be left thinking Beijing can either do nothing about fentanyl or is justified in turning a blind eye owing to Western mistreatment of China in the 19th century or America’s failure to extradite Chinese citizens sought by the PRC.

A couple sentences noting the Chinese government can stop the fentanyl flow anytime it wants, and that China has no excuses, might have been left on the newsroom floor.

Mr. Pomfret accurately notes that Chinese local governments won’t stop fentanyl production; they want tax revenues and employment – and are also thoroughly corrupt.  True enough.  But local officials are also frightened of being caught crossing Beijing.  Thus, one presumes CCP (Chinese Communist Party) leadership has no objections.

Then it’s noted the PRC government is in a legal bind as fentanyl producers keep jiggering the formula to avoid the ‘illegal list’ – and therefore the producers are always one-step ahead of the government that can’t revise laws fast enough – try as it might.

The article does note the PRC could simply ban all fentanyl related products – regardless of composition.  That’s true, but also irrelevant.  In China, the law is what Xi Xinping and the Communist Party say it is.  If they want to shut down fentanyl producers the ‘law’ is no obstacle – as it would be in the United States.  The fact the PRC doesn’t ban fentanyl ‘of any chemical composition’ – much less go after producers the way it goes after Uighurs, Christians, and Falun Gong – once again suggests the CCP is glad America is awash in fentanyl. 

Then we are told that Chinese cops have a different approach to policing.  That may be true – but it also makes it easier to target illegal drugs – if the CCP desires.  In other words, the PRC police can do whatever they want.  ‘Disappear’ people, arrest starlets, kidnap billionaires and booksellers….no problem.  The only restraints come from Zhongnanhai.

As for arguments that Chinese authorities can’t locate the illegal drug producers:  The CCP is creating a surveillance state Orwell couldn’t have imagined.  Deface a poster of President Xi and see how long it takes to be arrested and imprisoned or inside a mental hospital.

Indeed, before long, just mutter in your bathroom that Xi resembles Winnie the Pooh and you’ll have Ministry of State Security agents at your front door in minutes.

Next, PRC officials claim it’s the Americans who deserve blame for the country’s drug problem – and need to stop taking drugs in the first place.  Pimps and drug pushers have been using this excuse for years – ‘just giving customers what they want.’ 

Admittedly, human nature is what it is.  But that’s why civilized societies punish the providers of dangerous substances and services — and don’t just sanction users for their irresponsible behavior.

The article also mentions that Chinese authorities aren’t cooperating since they are angry (and implicitly excused) over American refusal to return every Chinese fugitive Beijing demands handed over.  That’s not much of an excuse.  Extradition disputes between countries are nothing new.  And China even refuses to return a key figure in the Malaysian 1MDB scandal who is hiding under protection in the PRC. 

China taking a few American citizens (and Canadians) hostage is bad enough, but suggesting extradition disputes excuse a drug peddling scheme killing thousands of Americans every year is insane.

Finally, it’s suggested that China’s blind eye to fentanyl exports is simply payback for the Opium Wars.  Mr. Pomfret uses the word schadenfraude.  However, schadenfraude is chuckling over the distress New York Yankees fans feel when their team loses in the playoff and misses the World Series – again. 

China’s behavior is better characterized as homicidal revenge.  Instead of schadenfraude it’s more like an arsonist gloating while watching the fire trucks and ambulances heading to his latest fire to pick up the corpses.

And it is causing carnage – throughout all parts of American society – even in ‘good’ neighborhoods.   And about half of the deaths attributed to fentanyl are young people of military age.  As one former government official notes, this is the equivalent of removing two or three divisions of Army or Marines off the rolls every year.  And don’t forget the ‘battlefield casualties’ who survive but can’t function as productive members of society, and the burden and expense of caring for them. 

From China’s perspective, what’s not to like?  And even better, the PRC makes a lot of money from the drug trade – and convertible currency as well.

Some people claim the victims are just ‘druggies’ and wouldn’t have joined the military anyway.  That’s both malicious and wrong.  Young people have been misbehaving for centuries, and that includes many who join the U.S. military.  But a ‘six pack’ or a ‘joint’ is one thing, a concoction that kills or permanently disables, is quite another. 

One is ultimately left thinking the PRC government is incompetent or corrupt, or pushing fentanyl on purpose.  Maybe it’s some of each.

Regardless, while attention focuses on the U.S. southern border, America is losing almost as many citizens to PRC supplied drugs than died in the worst years of the Vietnam War and far more than were killed in all 18 years of war in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Mr. President:

Maybe hold off on Xi Xinping’s invitation to Mar-a-Lago – and instead do one or more of the following:

  • Suspend the People’s Bank of China from the US dollar system;
  • Pull the plug on ZTE, the Chinese telecom firm that’s on probation;
  • De-list Alibaba from the NYSE (it shouldn’t have been listed in the first place);
  • Revoke the ‘green cards’ and place liens on the properties and bank accounts of the top 500 CCP members’ relatives in the United States.

Beijing can stop pushing drugs into America.  It just needs a reason to do so.

It’s past time to give it one..