MEXICO CITY — China's government denied the country's involvement in any illegal fentanyl trafficking with Mexico and said it had not been notified by Mexico's government of any seizures of the precursor chemicals used to make the powerful drug.
China's Foreign Ministry spokesman Mao Ning made the comments Thursday in response to a question about a plea from Mexico President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador this week that China help stop chemicals used by Mexican drug traffickers to produce fentanyl. Lopez Obrador cited U.S. pressure to stop the illegal trade.
Similar to Lopez Obrador's comments in recent weeks, Mao placed the blame for the tens of thousands of fentanyl overdose deaths in the United States on that country.
"The root cause of overdose lies in the U.S. itself, and the problem is completely made in the U.S. ," Mao said. "The U.S. should face up to its own problems and take more substantive measures to strengthen domestic supervision and reduce demand," Mao said.
The U.S. government has pressured both Mexico and China to do more to curb the trade in the synthetic opioid, blamed for about 70,000 overdose deaths per year in the United States.
The U.S. government said in 2021 that after China started strictly controlling fentanyl, Chinese traffickers started shifting away from finished fentanyl to exporting precursor chemicals to Mexico where cartels increasingly manufactured the drug and trafficked it north across the border.
Most illegal fentanyl is pressed by Mexican cartels into counterfeit pills made to look like other medications like Xanax, oxycodone or Percocet, or mixed into other drugs, including heroin and cocaine.
Many people who die of overdoses in the United States do not know they are taking fentanyl.
Lopez Obrador, in recent weeks, has denied that fentanyl is produced in Mexico. However, his own administration has acknowledged finding dozens of labs where it is produced, mainly in the northern state of Sinaloa.
Lopez Obrador's irritation with growing calls among some Republican lawmakers for the United States to take more aggressive action against Mexico's cartels led him to write a letter to his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping this week asking for help.
Mao, the foreign ministry spokesman, empathized with Mexico's position, but noted that China had taken strong action against fentanyl, imposing strict controls on fentanyl and fentanyl-related substances that go beyond even what the U.S. has done.
"China firmly supports Mexico's efforts to safeguard its independence and oppose foreign interference and calls on relevant countries to stop its bullying and hegemonic practice against Mexico," Mao said. "At the same time, we hope that Mexico will take stronger measures in terms of counter-narcotics." [VOA/NS]