The China National Narcotics Control Commission announced on Friday the Biden administration has lifted sanctions against the Institute of Forensic Science (IFS) at China’s Ministry of Public Security.
The move appears to be the first concession made by the administration after Chinese dictator Xi Jinping told President Joe Biden he would do more to halt the production of deadly fentanyl.
Xi’s promise to crack down on fentanyl production was one of two major achievements touted by the Biden administration after Xi and Biden talked for four hours on Wednesday ahead of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in San Francisco. The other major outcome of the meeting was Xi agreeing to restore direct communications between Chinese and American military forces, which China had severed after former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan in August 2022.
China’s IFS was added to the U.S. Commerce Department’s list of sanctioned entities in 2020 for “engaging in activities contrary to the foreign policy interests of the United States.”
The Commerce Department said at the time that IFS and eight other sanctioned entities were “complicit in human rights violations and abuses committed in China’s campaign of repression, mass arbitrary detention, forced labor and high-technology surveillance against Uighurs, ethnic Kazakhs, and other members of Muslim minority groups in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region [occupied East Turkistan].”
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The U.S. State Department delicately hinted that IFS might still be complicit in those human rights abuses, but a political decision was made to lift sanctions as an encouragement for China to do more against fentanyl.
“It became clear to us in conversations with the PRC dating back to the conversations that the Secretary launched in June when he traveled to Beijing that the continued listing of the IFS on the Commerce Entity List was a barrier to achieving cooperation on stopping the trafficking of precursor chemicals,” State Department spokesman Matt Miller said at a press conference on Thursday.
“PRC” is the People’s Republic of China, the Chinese Communist regime’s preferred name for itself. Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited China and met with Xi Jinping in June.
Miller said it was a “top priority” for Blinken and Biden to “stop the trafficking of precursor chemicals out of China that can be used to produce fentanyl that comes into the United States.”
“And so when we evaluated the issue and looked at all the merits of delisting the IFS, ultimately we decided that given the steps China was willing to take to cut down on precursor trafficking, it was an appropriate step to take,” he concluded.
In response to a follow-up question from reporters, Miller very awkwardly admitted the Administration has no real reason to believe the IFS is no longer involved with human rights violations against the Uyghur Muslims, although he paradoxically insisted China’s human rights record remains a very important concern for Biden.
“When you look at the decision we had to make, we ultimately decided that the listing of the IFS on this Commerce Entity List was a barrier to taking action that would save thousands and thousands of American lives,” he said. “And so we have to make tough decisions in this administration, and the decision that we made was that when you looked at the potential of saving American lives by securing this cooperation with China on fentanyl, on fentanyl trafficking, it was an appropriate step to take.”
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“Now, it’s not the end of the story,” he added. “We’re going to watch how China complies with the commitments that they made to us. We’re going to continue to talk with them about other steps they can take, and we will continue to hold them accountable for their human rights record.”
This was not even remotely close to the message received in Beijing, where Chinese state media trumpeted the lifting of sanctions against IFS as Biden humbly correcting an insulting mistake that never should have been made in the first place.
China’s state-run Global Times on Friday said Xi and his regime expect to hear no further bleating about human rights from Biden, if it expects any compensation for lifting sanctions against part of China’s state security apparatus:
In May 2020, without producing any evidence, the US added the Institute of Forensic Science of China’s Ministry of Public Security and the National Narcotics Laboratory to its “Entity List.”
Such a practice of imposing sanctions on China’s narcotics control authorities while seeking China’s cooperation has seriously hindered the operation of China’s fentanyl monitoring system and undermined the counter-narcotics cooperation between China and the US, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said in a report on “Reality Check: Falsehoods in US Perceptions of China” released in June 2022.
The Global Times quoted pliable “Chinese experts” who insisted the “root cause of the fentanyl abuse crisis in the U.S. lies in the U.S. itself,” so the Biden administration should “reflect on the underlying reasons itself, rather than blaming others.”
The Global Times quoted the bulletin from the China National Narcotics Control Commission asking Chinese firms and individuals to “prevent illegal and criminal activities involving the manufacturing, trafficking and smuggling of narcotic and psychotropic substances,” but said this announcement was in no way an admission of previous negligence by Xi’s regime.
In fact, the anti-narcotics announcement warned Chinese companies to avoid getting mixed up in narcotics production mostly because they might suffer from “long-arm jurisdiction by law enforcement agencies overseas.”
The Global Times noted that Xi’s regime has condemned U.S. prosecutors for indicting Chinese companies for fentanyl production, dismissing the indictments as “typical arbitrary detention and unilateral sanction, which is completely illegal.”