WASHINGTON— United States Senator Bill Hagerty (R-TN) in today’s Senate Foreign Relations Committee nominations hearing urged Uzra Zeya, President Joe Biden’s nominee for Under Secretary of State, to hold Communist China accountable to its 2018 pledge to halt the export of fentanyl. Senator Hagerty has met with mayors and sheriffs in Tennessee who have repeatedly warned that there’s there an uptick in drug overdoses due to the open border policies of the Biden Administration.
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Hagerty: “This is a matter of deep concern to me, it’s a serious problem in my home state of Tennessee. December 1, 2018: President Xi promised then President Trump to halt the export of fentanyl and all of the ingredients used to create fentanyl. Since that promise was made, we’ve had over 100,000 American lives lost to synthetic opioids directly traceable to CCP-produced fentanyl. If I think about it, America has done a great job in the current administration and the administration that proceeded it in dealing with the COVID-19 situation, but there is no vaccine for the addiction to fentanyl that we’re experiencing at the hands of Communist China. Can you tell me what your plan is to address this and to hold President Xi to his promise made December of 2018?”
Zeya: “Thank you Senator for raising a critically important issue. And I just want to express my own concern for the welfare of your constituents. And this was one of the reasons I raised this point in my opening remarks. And as you recounted, I think there was progress made under the previous administration where China agreed to implement controls and schedule fentanyl analogs. But sadly, what happened is we saw transnational criminal organizations adapt and basically shift to using precursor chemicals from China, negating the gains from the previous effort, which was the result of considerable U.S. diplomacy and negotiation. So I absolutely believe that the Chinese government can and must do more to hold its citizens and companies accountable that are supplying these precursors to transnational criminal organizations in Mexico and elsewhere. I think the United States needs to take a whole of government approach where the State Department or Embassy in Beijing plays a very important role, but we also need to work with the Department of Homeland Security, DEA, DOJ, to take on the Chinese government’s willful ignorance on this issue and to really prioritize saving the lives, as you mentioned, the record numbers of American losses due to opioid related overdoses is unacceptable. And this is something I would intend to prioritize if confirmed.”
Hagerty: “I appreciate your prioritization of that, and I would also underscore the fact that our border has become far more porous at Mexico, and that’s where this fentanyl is coming in and being produced in mass quantities. I was just back in my home state of Tennessee talking with sheriffs, with mayors, and what they’ve told me is something I think is probably being experienced across America. That’s been a huge uptick in the number of overdoses since the borders collapsed after the 20th of January. So this situation has become even more critical at this point, and I very much appreciate your attention to it.”
Zeya: “Thank you, Senator, for sharing that information, and I will certainly work to prioritize that in the work of the International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Bureau, and I know this remains a significant priority in terms of our counter narcotics engagement with Mexico.”