Fentanyl is the synthetic opioid driving America's public health crisis. Its cheap price, widespread use, addictive quality and deadly effect make it more dangerous than other narcotics classified by the DEA.
It is, ultimately, a chemical. And it's being used as a weapon in China's 21st Century Opium War against America.
President Donald Trump's 12-day, five-nation Asia tour will focus on North Korean nukes and international trade. In Beijing, however, he plans to address China's fentanyl production and distribution, an industry that fuels what the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission calls "China's deadly export to the United States." Trump holds undeniable moral authority when it comes to substance abuse, having personally seen and felt the effects on his family. Forcing China's hand on fentanyl is the right thing to do.
Drug abuse is inherently a demand issue; the underlying problem is America's insatiable narcotics need. But there is an international supply part to the drug equation that stretches from China's bottomless fentanyl manufacture to its bulk shipping of the deadly white powder into global markets. If Trump can get China to constrain supply, he might significantly reduce the problem.
And if any government can control its nation's industry, it is the one in Beijing. China already uses its authoritarian state structure to control the movement of people and ideas within its country with stunning efficiency. It even manages to do so in other jurisdictions, as when it kidnaps book publishers in Hong Kong.
But China is more passive when asked to act responsibly or confront threats to the U.S. that are otherwise perceived as serving its strategic interests. For example, North Korea developed its nuclear capacity with China's acquiescence, if not outright blessing. Why? Because Pyongyang's nukes make China indispensable to Korean Peninsula negotiations and future. A nuclear-armed North Korea seemed a lesser concern to China than the perceived value of bullying South Korea and regionally neutering America's military might.
Fentanyl is the nuclear narcotic killing thousands of Americans today and another example of China's two-faced approach. The chemical, known as "China Girl" or "China White" on the street, may have some Chinese victims, but its true value is as a profitable opiate export that also destroys American communities and roils the U.S. political landscape. Drug exports have enabled new Chinese-run drug cartels and distributors within the U.S. while untimely and tragic American deaths mount in what the president has called a "public health emergency."
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