China and the United States have stepped up cooperation in confronting America's opioid crisis, Chinese Ambassador to the U.S. Cui Tiankai said.
China's own historical experience with opium being pushed upon its people by outsiders has made it very aware of the perils of such interference, Cui said in an op-ed published on USA Today on Monday.
"Therefore, China is making major strides in stemming the flow of illegal fentanyl-like substances across our borders, and we encourage the U.S. side to continue to attack the demand side of the problem," the top envoy said.
President Xi Jinping announced China's decision to list all fentanyl-like substances as controlled substances in his meeting with President Donald Trump during the G20 Summit in Argentina last December.
Since then, China has delivered real results and taken comprehensive measures to step up the already stringent control over the substances, Cui wrote.
Cui listed the country's efforts to improve enforcement:
On May 1, China started listing all fentanyl-like substances as controlled substances. As part of the efforts, legal documents for regulating and prosecuting relevant offenses have been formulated. Nationwide investigations and inspections have been conducted on the enterprises and individuals involved in the production of such substances, so as to prevent illegal production.
Special operations have been launched to crack down on online sales of fentanyl-like substances. Logistics companies are urged to follow three rules: asking for real names of senders, opening packages to check contents, and conducting checks with security machines.
In particular, high-risk international packages are screened more carefully at key customs checkpoints to intercept smuggled fentanyl-like substances. In addition, the country is speeding up efforts to set up drug labs for technical support. More efforts are also being made to raise public awareness on this issue.
"Thanks to earnest implementation of these various measures, significant progress has been achieved. According to a White House tweet dated Aug 30, an official from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) testified that the flow of deadly fentanyl from China has dropped 'precipitously'," Cui wrote.
He continued that the Chinese government takes a zero-tolerance attitude toward drugs and strictly enforces anti-drug policies. Fentanyl-like substances for medical use legally produced in China have never flowed into the United States.
Fentanyl products illegally processed for American markets, cracked down upon by China's law-enforcement agencies, were all the result of cross-border collusion, where the substances were disguised or hidden in international packages and mailed to the U.S.. The amount involved is very limited, according to Cui.
Choking off the flow of illegal substances into the U.S. is a crucial step in combating opioid drug abuse, and China is doing its part, Cui wrote.
"However, we cannot overstate the fundamental importance of preventing drug abuse in addressing the fentanyl issue in the United States," he added.
"China is voluntarily joining the U.S. in an 'all-of-the-above' strategy that counters both supply and demand, and we reject any effort to blame U.S. or lay responsibility for the epidemic at our door," Cui wrote.