Blog dedicated to reporting on Mexican drug cartels
on the border line between the US and Mexico

Friday, November 17, 2023

Biden Removes Sanctions Against Chinese Institute Accused of Human Rights Abuses to Help Combat Fentanyl Trade

"Socalj" for Borderland Beat

Just blocks from where US President Joe Biden and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping met with other Asia-Pacific leaders this week in San Francisco is a neighborhood where it was commonplace to see people using and selling drugs, known as the Tenderloin District in San Francisco. The city, host to Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) has received criticism for large-scale sweeps of homeless encampments this week, ahead of the foreign leaders arriving for the event on streets that just days prior were viewed as open-air drug markets.

While it was doubtful that the arriving leaders would truly see the reality of the fentanyl opioid crisis on the streets this week, it was one of the many topics discussed. Primarily between Biden and Xi on Wednesday. Mexico and China's leaders met on Thursday. They committed to working together and strengthening ties while agreeing to battle illegal drug trafficking between their nations and to push for more trade and investment.

The United States wants China's cooperation to stop an illicit flow of "precursor" chemicals that are used to make fentanyl. 

China, Mexico & US Stances on Fentanyl Issues

The Biden administration has been seeking increased cooperation from both Mexico and China to stem the flow of fentanyl, a deadly opioid, and its precursor chemicals, which have fueled a sharp rise in overdose deaths in the United States.

Lopez Obrador and Xi agreed to combat illegal trafficking of precursor chemicals, Mexican Foreign Minister Alicia Barcena said. Biden also met with the Mexican President.

"We know that this global fentanyl supply chain, which ends with the deaths of Americans, often starts with chemical companies in China," said US Attorney General Merrick Garland. Last month, the United States imposed sanctions on 28 people and entities involved with the international proliferation of illicit drugs, including a large China-based network.

Advocates have also accused pharmaceutical companies and related businesses of fueling the crisis by downplaying the risks of opioids and the lack of regulation. Landmark settlements since 2021 have set compensation at more than $50 billion nationwide.

US-China Agreement to Combat Fentanyl Trade

In addition to economic, military, and other political issues being discussed, fentanyl was a topic high on the list for the Biden-Xi summit. Many believed the meetings would result in action to combat the fentanyl trade.

The White House announced the resumption of bilateral cooperation on counternarcotics, with a focus on reducing the flow of precursor chemicals fueling illicit fentanyl and synthetic drug trafficking. For years, bilateral cooperation on counternarcotics had been suspended. The PRC is now taking law enforcement action against illicit precursor suppliers, has issued a notice to industry warning Chinese companies against illicit trade in precursor chemicals and pill press equipment, and has committed to restart key law enforcement cooperation.

In its circular, the narcotics agency warned that any person, or company, including postal and logistics firms, that is aware of the sale, transport, or export of illegal drugs or precursor chemicals may face criminal charges or fines.

US officials say small chemical businesses in China make precursor chemicals that are shipped to Mexico to produce illicit fentanyl. China says addiction and demand for the drug are US domestic problems. Former President Trump in 2018 cut a deal with Xi that saw China classify the drug as a controlled substance, but the fentanyl-fueled epidemic has only worsened since then.

Together, the United States and China are now announcing the launch of a counter-narcotics working group to create a platform for policy and technical experts to discuss law enforcement efforts and exchange information on counter-narcotics efforts going forward.

US Removes Sanctions for Cooperation

Securing Xi's promise of Chinese cooperation in stemming the flow of fentanyl to the United States was high on Biden's to-do list for the summit. A senior US official said the agreement under which China would go after specific companies that produce fentanyl precursors was made on a "trust but verify" basis.

Following the meetings between Biden and Xi; the US removed restrictions on the Institute of Forensic Science, part of China's Ministry of Public Security.

The Trump administration put the institute on the Commerce Department's "Entity List" in 2020 over alleged abuses toward ethnic Uyghurs and other minority groups - effectively barring it from receiving US exports. While not to the level of sanctions such as those put in place on several Chinese chemical and exporting companies; the inclusion on the list restricts exports and subjects companies to US licensing laws. It does not completely prohibit US companies or people from doing business with them.

About 11 million Uyghurs, a mostly Muslim, Turkic-speaking ethnic group, live in the northwestern region of Xinjiang. The Chinese government has imprisoned more than 1 million people since 2017 and subjected those not detained to intense surveillance, religious restrictions, forced labor, forced abortions, and forced sterilizations.

The United States determined that China’s actions constitute genocide, while a UN report said they could amount to crimes against humanity. The UN report affirmed previous findings by international journalists, researchers, and rights organizations. Various exposés showed that detainees were forced to pledge loyalty to the CCP and renounce Islam, as well as sing praises for communism and learn Mandarin. Some people reported prison-like conditions, with cameras and microphones monitoring their every move and utterance. Others said they were tortured and subjected to sleep deprivation during interrogations. Women have shared stories of sexual abuse, including rape. Some released detainees contemplated suicide or witnessed others kill themselves.

Critics warned removing sanctions against the institute signals to Beijing that US entity listings are negotiable, and have questioned the Biden administration's commitment to pressuring China over what it says is the Chinese government's genocide of Uyghurs.

"This undermines the credibility of our entity list and our moral authority," said a spokesperson for the Republican-led House of Representatives select committee on China. First published in 1997 to inform the public about entities involved in disseminating weapons of mass destruction, the list has since expanded to include entities engaged in "activities sanctioned by the State Department and activities contrary to US national security and/or foreign policy interests."

Former Chinese ambassador to the US Qin Gang last year described it as "shocking" that the US, which had expressed frustration over Beijing's lack of cooperation on fentanyl, would sanction an institute he described as essential to controlling the drug.

Rayhan Asat, a human rights lawyer of Uyghur heritage, said she recognized the pressing issue posed by fentanyl, but that the U.S. decision raised questions about the US commitment to addressing China's rights abuses.

"The United States has a legal obligation, under federal law, to address atrocity crimes once they have been determined as such. The question then arises: should addressing one issue take precedence over addressing the genocide? Can't we address both?" she said.

San Francisco's Street Sweeping

In the first 9 months of this year, 619 people died of an opioid overdose in San Francisco, most related to synthetic opioids, compared with 647 such deaths in the whole of 2022, according to the city's Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.

"It's out of control," said Mike Odeh, 36, a salesperson at a liquor store near where APEC leaders met. He said that while the city had been cleaning up the streets ahead of APEC, he normally sees people using fentanyl while walking his son to the park and to school, adding: "You can see it all over. Not this week of course."

In San Francisco, state and local officials have tried to clean up drugs from the city's streets, with limited success. The crisis has drawn sharp criticism from residents in the city, where drug-fuelled crime has forced some businesses to leave, especially in the Tenderloin District.

California-Based Fentanyl Task Force

San Francisco's new District Attorney, Brooke Jenkins, has made prosecuting drug dealers a cornerstone of her agenda since taking office at the beginning of 2023. The city recently formed a law enforcement task force with federal agencies to investigate opioid-linked deaths and poisonings.

The new task force will equip the City and County of San Francisco with a deeply necessary investigative ability. Traditionally, overdoses have not been investigated as murders,” said District Attorney Brooke Jenkins. “Now, working together we will be able to investigate fatal fentanyl overdoses where evidence may be collected to establish a connection to the person who provided the drugs that killed someone so that they can possibly be charged with murder."

“As part of this new task force, our analysts at the California National Guard will work behind the scenes to connect the dots — to identify dealers, suppliers, and traffickers so law enforcement can secure justice,” said Major General Matthew Beevers, CalGuard. “We’ve had tremendous success serving in a similar role in San Diego and Fresno and we’re ready for this mission.”

Since the state began its increased law enforcement efforts in San Francisco on May 1, 2023, the CHP has seized 18.5 kilos of fentanyl and made 364 felony and misdemeanor arrests in the Tenderloin and the surrounding area.

The city's Mayor London Breed has pushed to prioritize treatment for drug users, talked of police action as a way to solve the problem, and has called on the federal government to boost its drug trafficking enforcement. "We know San Francisco - and cities across the United States - will benefit from more targeting of the trafficking and production of fentanyl worldwide," a spokesperson for Breed said in a statement.


  1. US shouldn’t even meet with their enemies but you have to when the existence of the entire nations economy depends on Chinese manufacturing. Remove sanctions and go back to China and do nothing. Maybe, Take down a company, arrest someone and let the other company keep doing business. Big whoop. Hell, they might even let them out of the back door of the jail. Xi and Biden, two criminals shaking hands. politics baby.

    1. Partly,It's a dirty world. And nobody gives anything without something in return.The greatest enemy of the USA are not the Chinese,it's the Republicans as they already hold gov't positions.
      As 71% of the USA's economy are in Democrat cities, counties and states,the Dems must hold,otherwise we will be no. 3 or 4,5th biggest economy. Not good.
      9 of the 10 poorest states are GOP.

    2. 8:09 Both party’s have sold the country to the highest bidder and never put the American people first. Would have to say republicans aren’t the ones who absolutely destroyed the US since 2020. Republicans aren’t the ones arresting political opponents like Russia does. Every last one of those politicians break the law and they arrest the outsider. From the mayor to president. Every president in the last 80 years should’ve been thrown in jail I guess? Oh, Go visit any major city in America and it’s a shithole because democrat policies. Major city’s are successful because that’s where college graduates move to get the jobs they want. The south is poor for many reasons. Shipping jobs out, closing down factories. Go to those mountains in Appalachia, go to the swamps in Louisiana, go to the farm lands all over the south and become wealthy. There’s more job opportunities in the inner city hoods than there is down south in the country. Turn off CNN and go outside.

    3. It’s always been this way 7:52. In 5 years time maybe more, a standing US president may have no choice but to shake Putins hand for oil and gas prices. Assad was a devil in the early to mid 2010s and now he’s been welcomed back into the Arab community. Hell, we armed Bin Laden in the 80’s to fight against Russia, it’s all a big game.

    4. 9:22 Nonsense .The cities are where the economies are run. Almost all big cities and the metropolitan/county areas around them are Democrat because Republicans talk only.
      The Democrat environment are it. The big cities got all kinds of problems that goes with it. Even in Texas, Dallas,Austin,Houston,San Antonio are Democrat held.
      It's because Republicans are frauds, useless,look at Congress,cant even elect a speaker,took a long time,threatening to shutdown the govt,no plans for the nation.Bidens laptop,lol. And the GOP are focused on trying to control people,useless 0 value cultural wars.
      Republican competence:
      "The virus will go away"(30x) - Trump. More than a million Americans died.

    5. Republicans are clowns.

    6. Hello Georgia find (steal) me 11780 votes -Trump. Republican fake electors. Trump telling the DOJ to say the election was corrupt,we will take care of the rest. It was Trump/ Republicans all along who was trying to cheat.
      The Republican morons who stormed the capitol thought it was the Democrats cheating. Clowns.
      The confederates will never win.

    7. @8:37
      The Republicans knew what the Orange man did, or Cheetos like someone calls him, of the January 6 fiasco, that day 5 people died, a cop, a lady ...
      Yet the Republicans stood by Orange man. Yet Orange man wants to run again.

    8. 4:52AM

      The United States exports more gas than Russia or any other country. It's the other way around, Russia will have no choice but to shake hands with a US president.

    9. 4:52am The US shouldn’t deal with these governments in the first place it’s been proven time and time again that governments like China/Russia are not viable trading partners because with the will of one man they can completely fuck over their economies which in turn affect the rest of us.
      Im not saying the US is any better but I’d rather deal with the Wests fucked up democracies over authoritarian governments that will kill you over a remark you made about the country on the internet.

    10. 9:08,11:38. I agree . That's partly what I'm saying, they don't care because it's all about the confederacy. A segment of them belong to the pretend-religion or use religion as a front.

  2. The biggest threats to USA are China, North Korea, Iran and Russia.

    1. You regurgitate mainstream media. Mejor callate. Or should I say it in Belizean?

    2. 10:55

      Do you know where the media got that info? Or do you just run your mouth? The mainstream media got the info from NSA, CIA, and the military.

  3. Why do pharma companies get fined 50 million amd other people go to jail... couldn't be pharmacy dates alot to the HEADLINE SEAKERS. I MEAN USA

  4. Joe Biden is our Manchurian candidate and does the Chi-coms bidding as he's bought and paid for selling out our country to them.

  5. Excellent article, Sol, to veer back on track.


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