Brian Nichols, US Assistant Secretary of State (REUTERS)
Senior US policymakers on Wednesday criticized the Chinese regime for its approach to Latin America, accused it of flouting economic rules and urged it to do more to help combat the illegal trade in fentanyl.
Appearing before a House subcommittee, Brian Nichols, Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, reiterated the Biden administration’s view that China’s trade forays into the region have been characterized by a “ lack of transparency” in agreements with “conditions”.
Nichols said Latin American countries have grown tired of China’s investment tactics and the United States needs to provide a viable alternative through diplomacy, foreign aid and private investment. “It is vital that we answer their call,” he said.
The Chinese embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Focusing on the fentanyl crisis, Todd Robinson, Under Secretary of State for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, stated that most of the fentanyl seized in the United States “is trafficked through Mexico using diverted precursor chemicals from the Republic People’s China”.
“We recognize that interrupting the flow of precursor chemicals is crucial,” he said.
Todd Robinson, US Assistant Secretary of State for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs
China has denounced US sanctions on Chinese companies and individuals for their alleged involvement in the fentanyl trade and accused Washington of trying to deflect blame instead of working to reduce demand for the deadly drug.
Nichols said the United States has raised its concerns with China.
“Chinese private companies take advantage to sell (…) chemical precursors to illicit organizations in Mexico that are used to produce fentanyl,” he said. “We know that there is more that the PRC (People’s Republic of China) can do in terms of being a better partner in the global community.”
Robinson said Washington has provided Mexican authorities with more than 500 drug-sniffing dogs to help detect fentanyl, but added: “We have to get the Mexicans to do more.”
Fentanyl is a powerful opioid some 50 times stronger than heroin, and has been increasingly mixed with other illicit drugs, often with lethal results.
In April, Mexico and the United States agreed to intensify the fight against fentanyl trafficking. Both countries have asked Beijing for help to stop the shipment of precursors from China, in order to prevent the production of the synthetic drug responsible for thousands of deaths in the United States.
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