The United States only has itself to blame for the ongoing opioid crisis, a top Chinese drug enforcement official said Thursday.
Yu Haibin, a leader of the China National Narcotics Control Commission, said the U.S. has done nothing to prove the claim that deadly synthetic opioids such as fentanyl are streaming into the country from across the Pacific.
President Trump last month blamed a “flood of cheap and deadly” fentanyl made in China for the deadliest drug epidemic in U.S. history.
Fentanyl and other synthetic opioids killed more than 20,000 Americans in 2016, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Yu suggested that poor drug education, the over-prescription of pain killers and the legalization of marijuana in some states have done more to foster the current epidemic than Chinese-made opioids, according to The Associated Press.
“China doesn’t deny that shipments to the U.S. happen, but there isn’t the proof to show how much — whether it’s 20% or 80%,” Yu said.
He added that U.S. authorities have only sent him information about six shipments from China in the past year.
Trump directed the Department of Health and Human Services to declare the opioid crisis a public health emergency last month.
The move did not allocate federal funds and was panned as little more than a symbolic gesture from a President who promised to battle the epidemic that is killing at least 90 Americans a day.
Rebuking Trump, Yu Haibin of the China National Narcotics Control Commission placed the blame on poor drug education and over-prescription in the United States.
(Ng Han Guan/AP)
According to a recent CDC study, life expectancy has decreased for the second straight year in the U.S., thanks to overdose deaths.
More than 66,000 people in America died of drug overdoses in the year ending May 2017, a jump of 17.4% from the previous year.
When asked about fentanyl during an appearance in Beijing with Chinese president Xi Jinping, Trump said the pair discussed the issue. “We’re going to be focusing on it very strongly, the president and myself,” Trump said.
But black market websites are still in operation, and illicit fentanyl is either shipped directly to customers and addicts or smuggled across the southern border through Mexico.
In October 2016, the AP identified 12 Chinese companies willing to export carfentanil around the world for a few thousand dollars for a kilogram, no questions asked.
Carfentanil, 100 times more powerful than fentanyl, is legally used as an anesthetic for large animals such as elephants.
Yu urged the U.S. to share more data and intelligence with Chinese authorities, but also took a jab at what he called America’s lax attitudes toward drugs .
“As many states decriminalize marijuana, the public’s attitudes and trends of thinking toward drugs will also have a bad effect” on the fight against hard narcotics, Yu said.