US, China form group to combat fentanyl trafficking

The US and China have formed a working group to cooperate on stopping the flow of fentanyl and other synthetic opioids. The move comes against a backdrop of the two superpowers weathering disputes on trade, security and human rights.

Officials from both countries met in Beijing on Tuesday to discuss the issue.

US Deputy Homeland Security Advisor Jen Daskal spoke with her Chinese counterpart. She said, "President Biden sent such a significant delegation to underscore the importance of this issue to the American people."

Chinese Minister of Public Security Wang Xiaohong said, "We hope both sides will continue to work together in various fields based on solid counternarcotic cooperation, while accommodating each other's concerns."

Fentanyl overdoses have become a leading cause of death among young people in the US. The drug is thought to be responsible for about 100,000 deaths per year.

Biden has called the crisis an "American tragedy." He and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed last year to try to stop production and export of the drug.

US officials believe China is the primary source of the chemicals used to manufacture fentanyl. Drug cartels in Mexico use those substances to make the final product, and officials are also putting pressure on the Mexican government to stop the flow.