China Can’t Solve America’s Fentanyl Problem

Why a Crackdown Won’t Fix the Opioid Crisis

Joshua Lott / Reuters

At the G-20 summit in Buenos Aires in December, U.S. President Donald Trump announced that his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, had agreed to tighten China’s controls over manufacturing fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opioid that is orders of magnitude stronger than heroin. First synthesized in 1960, fentanyl is regularly used as a fast-acting general anesthetic in surgeries. Yet over the past four years, illicit fentanyl, much of it produced in China and mailed to U.S. buyers, has emerged as the major driver of fatal overdoses in the United States. In 2013, the National Forensic Laboratory Information System, which collects information on …