Biden removes sanctions from Chinese institute in push for fentanyl help By Reuters

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© Reuters. The Department of Commerce building is seen in Washington, U.S., January 26, 2022. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Biden administration on Thursday removed the Chinese Ministry of Public Security’s Institute of Forensic Science from a trade sanction list, part of a bid to convince Beijing to do more to halt the flow of the synthetic opioid fentanyl into the United States.

Washington put the institute on the list in 2020 over alleged abuses against Uyghurs and other minority groups, effectively barring it from receiving most goods from U.S. suppliers.

Former Chinese ambassador to the U.S. Qin Gang in an interview last year described it as “shocking” the U.S. would sanction the institute, which he described as essential to controlling fentanyl.

The Chinese embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Reuters had previously reported the institute would be removed as Biden sought more cooperation from Beijing on fentanyl in a meeting with China’s President Xi Jinping on Wednesday in San Francisco at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum.

As part of the meeting, the men agreed to cooperate on addressing the source of the opioid fentanyl, with China promising to go directly after specific chemical companies that make fentanyl precursors.

Blocking fentanyl “precursor” chemicals has been a priority for Washington as the rate of overdose deaths involving the drug more than tripled from 2016 through 2021, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The removal, according to a notice posted in the Federal Register, came after a “removal proposal” was received and reviewed, the department said in the posting, by a committee composed of representatives of the departments of Commerce, State, Defense, Energy, and sometimes, the Treasury.

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