China announced Monday that it will add all "fentanyl-related substances" to its list of controlled substances, a request that President Donald Trump had repeatedly made.
What's the story?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, pharmaceutical fentanyl is 50 to 100 times stronger than morphine. In the world of illegal drugs, fentanyl is sometimes mixed with heroin or cocaine, which can be lethal.
The CDC reports that the number of deaths in the U.S. related to fentanyl and other synthetic drugs has been on the rise, with 29,418 Americans dying from synthetic opiates, including fentanyl, in 2017.
In August, Trump tweeted that the U.S. Senate needed to do more to stop the flow of fentanyl from China, which he said was "pouring into the U.S. postal system." He has also called on China to crackdown on fentanyl inside its own borders.
During 2018's G-20 summit in Buenos Aires, Chinese President Xi Jinping promised Trump that his country would "designate fentanyl as a controlled substance, meaning that people selling fentanyl to the United States will be subject to China's maximum penalty under the law."
It is outrageous that Poisonous Synthetic Heroin Fentanyl comes pouring into the U.S. Postal System from China. We… https://t.co/IVbDSbbUYz— Donald J. Trump (@Donald J. Trump)1534785299.0
The Chinese government has, of course, denied that China is the source of the influx of fentanyl into the United States. Liu Yuejin, vice commissioner of China's National Narcotics Control Commission, told the New York Times that "the United States is the main cause of the problem of the abuse of fentanyl in the United States," pointing to rampant drug use by Americans.
The new rules will go into place on May 1. China already regulates 25 varieties of fentanyl, but new ones are constantly being developed, which makes such piecemeal legislation less effective.
This announcement comes as the Trump administration and the Chinese government try to hash out a new trade deal to stop their war of escalating tariffs.