China jails nine for selling fentanyl into US

In joint case with U.S., China jails nine fentanyl smugglers

China Touts Fentanyl Convictions With Trade Deal in Sight

One of the convicted members was given a suspended death sentence - which in practice is normally commuted to a life in jail - and two got life sentences.

Fentanyl, an opioid that's been linked to a sharp rise in drug overdose deaths, has been one of many talking points between the USA and China in ongoing trade talks.

Although China has publicly denied being the main source of illicit fentanyl flow to the U.S., it has made broad concessions on an issue that White House trade adviser Peter Navarro considers one of China's "seven deadly sins" that the country must address in any trade deal.

China sentenced three nationals to maximum punishments for smuggling fentanyl to the US, in one of its highest-profile moves yet against the illicit flow of opioids that President Donald Trump has made a bone of contention in broader trade talks between Washington and Beijing.

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The US has criticized China for not doing enough to prevent the illegal flow of narcotics from China into the US.

That tightrope act was on display again on Thursday's press conference in Hebei.

On Thursday, a court in the city of Xingtai in northern Hebei province announced the verdict, adding that it was the first time that China and the United States had worked jointly on such a case. The leader was targeting worldwide clients, including buyers from the USA and Canada, China Daily reports.

As trade talks enter a delicate stage this week, central government officials who appeared Thursday in Xingtai, a city in China's steel belt 250 miles south of Beijing, presented an optimistic face and called on the United States to view the fentanyl bust as a bright spot in the bilateral relationship. "Drug crime is the public enemy of all mankind, and shouldn't be linked to trade war or any other political reason", he told reporters.

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A Chinese court docket sentenced a few fentanyl traffickers Thursday in a circumstance that was a fruits of a rare collaboration concerning Chinese and US law enforcement to crack down on worldwide networks that manufacture and distribute deadly artificial opioids.

The Chinese foreign ministry had then announced that Beijing had "decided to schedule the entire category of fentanyl-type substances as controlled substances, and start the process of revising relevant laws and regulations".

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 500,000 Americans died of drug overdoses in the decade ending in 2017 - increasingly, from synthetic opioids like the ones sold by the Xingtai network.

Scrambling to contain surging overdose deaths, Washington has blamed Beijing for failing to curb the supply of synthetic drugs that USA officials say come mainly from China. The event may also boost his effort to make the deal palatable to hardliners inside his administration who are pushing for structural concessions by Beijing.

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"As the success of this joint investigation demonstrates, Chinese and American investigators have the capacity to collaborate across global borders", Austin Moore, an ICE attache in the Beijing embassy, told reporters.

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