Hudson Institute

The Strategic Importance of Stopping the Fentanyl Slaughter

President and CEO
The Strategic Importance of Stopping the Fentanyl Slaughter John Walters
Fentanyl pills at the Mexican attorney general’s office in Tijuana, Mexico, on July 28, 2022. (Photo by Salwan Georges/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Last week, Secretary of State Anthony Blinken was the victim of bad staff work. At the end of his meetings with officials of the People’s Republic of China, he told the BBC: 

Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid, [is] the biggest killer of Americans between the ages of 18 and 45. And the way it’s made is with chemicals, ingredients, the precursors, that get synthesized into this opioid. And those chemicals are often manufactured in China, for totally appropriate and legal purposes, but then they get diverted to criminal organizations that turn them into fentanyl and send them into the United States.

We’ve seen a real change in terms of cooperation from China in trying to deal with that. 

With the exception of the “biggest killer” sentence, Secretary Blinken’s statement is wildly inaccurate.

On April 16, the House Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party released documents demonstrating that the Communist government directly subsidizes and profits from fentanyl trafficking in the United States. The select committee presented compelling proof that the Chinese Communist Party that controls the PRC is intentionally poisoning uncounted thousands of Americans and killing most of the more than 100,000 who succumb to drug overdoses each year.  

For years the Chinese Communists made promises to crack down and cooperate in stopping the fentanyl trade—both the Trump and the Biden administrations received and wanted to believe these assurances. They were always Communist lies. 

Using Mexican cartels as proxies, the Chinese Communists are carrying out the most devastating foreign attack on the United States in American history. Previous estimates put the destruction at over a trillion dollars a year, but this is a vast undercount. There are no reliable estimates of the hundreds of thousands of Americans who are addicted. Moreover, there are no reliable estimates of the long-term costs of the vast number of addiction-harmed individuals, their families, and their communities. A poisoning on this massive scale has never happened before.

Although difficult to imagine, the Chinese Communist biochemical warfare against America is opening to new and even more harmful poisons. As former Attorney General Bill Barr warned in his testimony before the select committee, now it is “not just fentanyl but even new generations of hideous Chinese drugs like nitazenes and xylazines (‘tranqs’).” The attack on America is escalating, and the trafficking of these drugs is spreading to Europe.

It is now beyond doubt that the CCP is engaged in a devastating and ongoing chemical attack on America. How is this not an act of war that should dramatically change the relationship between the PRC and the United States? How can the US stop the attack and establish deterrence?

Based on the evidence now available, America should declare the CCP a drug trafficking organization. This can have a range of consequences for party officials and members. Moreover, the designation will not be questioned by honest allies and will be a blow to the respect Communist Party Chairman Xi Jinping demands. Such a designation could be accomplished by executive action or a congressional resolution.

American officials should also consider declaring the CCP and the PRC a hostile adversary and begin a review of the entire US-PRC relationship. The review should consider dramatically reducing the number of PRC diplomatic personnel and diplomatic offices in the US. Since the CCP has legally compelled all Chinese citizens to act on taskings from the CCP intelligence and security organs, the US should also announce options for sharply curtailing the number of PRC citizens allowed in America.

The CCP uses its economic power to build military and political power. However, the PRC economy is not performing well and depends on exports and foreign investment capital to drive growth. The PRC domestic economy alone cannot maintain or expand the CCP’s economic power. America should announce the preparation of a detailed plan to attack the strategic economic weaknesses of the PRC.  

While some argue America’s prosperity cannot be separated from our current economic relationship with the PRC, the CCP continues to decouple from the US and has been doing so for at least a decade. Moreover, the PRC economy has not been performing well since the Covid pandemic began, and its structural problems continue. The PRC’s decline has simply not dragged down the US. And if there is a choice to be made between the profits of Apple and tens of thousands of American lives, what would the American people do?

Lastly, in a new period of hard-power confrontation, building and displaying hard power is critical. The direct attack on America via dangerous drugs and Mexican cartel proxies is only part of the threat from the CCP. The dangerous hard-power challenges require urgent attention. US nuclear forces need to be modernized and expanded. And conventional air, land, sea, undersea, and space-based systems need to be upgraded and expanded to meet CCP threats and exploit vulnerabilities. All of this is doable, and specific proposals are available.

American efforts will have achieved deterrence against the PRC biochemical attack when overdose deaths decline dramatically. This should be an utmost priority as a key step in deterring the CCP’s quest for dominance.