President Joe Biden, in cooperation with Chinese President Xi Jinping, announced new international measures to combat the worldwide spread of fentanyl Wednesday.
In a press conference following a summit with Chinese President Xi on Wednesday, President Biden announced a bilateral deal with China that will target Chinese chemicals and equipment that go into fentanyl production.
"We are restarting cooperation between the United States and the PRC to counter narcotics," President Biden said Wednesday night. "A lot of people are dying. More people in the United States between the ages of 18-49 die from fentanyl than from guns, car accidents or any other cause, period."
"Today, with this new understanding, we're taking action to significantly reduce the flow of precursor chemicals and pill presses from China to the Western Hemisphere. It's going to save lives," Biden said. "President Xi and I tasked our teams to maintain a policy and law enforcement coordination going forward to make sure it works."
The CDC says drug overdose deaths have increased more than sevenfold from 2015 to 2021. In 2021, more than 70,000 people in the U.S. died from an overdose that involved fentanyl, the highest number ever recorded. Health officials predict 2023 will be worse.
The drug was first introduced in the United States in the early 1960s as an anesthetic. China's involvement today comes from the country's massive chemical production.
U.S. officials have called for international action and increased cooperation against the trafficking of fentanyl and its precursors.
"When one government aggressively restricts the precursor chemical, traffickers simply buy it elsewhere. When one country closes off a transit route, traffickers quickly shift to another," U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in July. "This is the definition of a problem that no country can solve alone."
President Biden is expected to discuss more international cooperation against trafficking with Mexican officials next week.
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