China is now pushing potent narcotic drugs to other countries and then using this supply as a tool to silence international opposition to the suppression of human rights of the minorities in Xinjiang.
Lately, Washington has been arm-twisted by Beijing in lifting trade sanctions on a Chinese firm linked to the abuse of Uighur and other minority groups in China, using the supply of synthetic drug Fentanyl as a bargaining chip.
Prior to the visit of President of China Xi Jinping to the United States in November 2023, the Institute of Forensic Science of the Chinese Ministry of Public Security was removed by Washington from a trade sanction list, “in a bid to move forward with counternarcotics cooperation with China,” as the White House has said in a statement.
If the government of China agrees to prevent Chinese companies from sending Fentanyl to other countries on the condition that the international community must close its eyes to Beijing oppressing minority groups in China like the Tibetan and Uighur people, this in itself should be treated as a criminal act, say analysts. Fentanyl, a synthetic drug, is 20 times more potent than heroin. A dose of as little as two milligrams may kill an adult.
Banned narcotic, Fentanyl, is the leading cause of death of Americans between the ages of 18 to 49 years, and the graph is steadily increasing. More than 105,000 Americans died of drug overdoses during February 2022 to January 2023. The majority of drug overdose deaths caused by consumption of synthetic opioids such as Fentanyl and Fentanyl. The U.S. experienced more than 100,000 drug overdose fatalities in the 12-month period between May 2020 and April 2021, an increase of 28.5 percent from the previous year. Data published in journals indicates that 64 per cent of these deaths, about 150 overdose deaths per day, were linked to consumption of synthetic opioids.
The ban on the Institute of Forensic Science of the Chinese Ministry of Public Security was imposed by the U.S. Government in May 2020 “for engaging in human rights violations and abuses in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous region and in activities contrary to the foreign policy interests of the United States.” The measure had effectively prohibited the Institute from receiving most goods from U.S. suppliers.
Forensic science technologies are being used by the Chinese government to create a system of apartheid in the Xinjiang region. Uighur and other Turkish minorities are being targeted, based on their racial identity. Population between the age group of 12 and 65 years in the Xinjiang region has been genetically profiled. Even, the most comprehensive and intrusive system of biometric surveillance is also implemented there. The use of forensic genetic technologies to distinguish one group of people from another is helping the police and the national security in setting up internment camps, carrying out mass surveillance and repressing political and cultural expression.
According to reports, the profiling is carried out in the name of free health-checks. The blood of the person undergoing the profiling is drawn, the face is scanned, voice is recorded and fingerprints are taken. If questions are asked, the person undergoing profiling is threatened with police custody. “China wants to make the country’s Uighur more subservient to the communist party,” writes the New York Times. A comprehensive DNA database can be used to chase down any Uighur who resists from conforming to the campaign. Elsewhere in the world, such scientific techniques are used to track criminals and solve crimes.
The last instance of the use of forensic science as an aid to racial discrimination was implemented by the Nazi through medical experimentation. After the defeat of Adolf Hitler, the practice of ‘eugenics,’ the use of racial categories in science, had gone into decline. Now with the sanction of the Communist Party of China, this practice is being revived again in the Xinjiang region.
Scholars like Troy Duster of University of California, Berkeley, and Duana Fullwiley of Stanford University have argued that the use of racial categories in forensic genetic research could make these technologies of oppression against the marginalized people of Xinjiang. This is exactly what is happening in China. Security agencies in China have been engaged in a long-term effort to develop technologies that will be able to racially distinguish Han Chinese people from Uighur and other minorities, so that the government can more effectively target the latter with oppressive measures.
An important centre of this research is the Institute of Forensic Science (IFS) of the Ministry of Public Security in Beijing. The scientists there have filed a number of Chinese patents and patent applications. In 2014, the China National Intellectual Property Administration granted the IFS a patent for a genetic test to determine if an unidentified sample is Han Chinese, Tibetan or Uighur.
Nor is the patent of 2014 an isolated example. In 2017, a Chinese patent application filed by IFS researchers used hundreds of samples of DNA extract from other marginalized indigenous peoples and minorities obtained in a controversial manner. Claims of informed consent made by Chinese researchers over Uighur and other Turkish minority people are false. Consent is required for the participants to be free from any coercion, to be free to choose whether to participate at all and also to be free to withdraw at a later date. None of these conditions is plausible in the police state of Xinjiang where hundreds of thousands of Uighur people have disappeared into “re-education camps,” really a euphemism for concentration camps.
“The continued listing of the IFS on the Commercial Entry List was a barrier to achieving cooperation on stopping the trafficking of precursor chemicals,” U. S. State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said in a briefing on November 16, 2023, after the lifting of the ban. “When we evaluated the issues and looked into all the merits of delisting the IFS, ultimately we decided that given the steps China was willing to take to cut down on precursor trafficking, it was an appropriate step,” the White House spokesperson said. “We have to make tough decisions in this administration.”
The lifting of the ban was thus a part of the process of negotiations with China aimed at stopping the flow of synthetic drugs and precursor chemicals into the U.S. Precursors are substances used to manufacture illicit drugs. China is the primary source of Fentanyl and Fentanyl-related substances trafficked through international mail and express consignment operations.
A Press release issued by the U.S. Justice Department on October 3, 2023, exposed the modus operandi of this sordid trade in which Chinese companies engage in. “The global Fentanyl supply chain which ends in the deaths of Americans often starts with chemical companies in China,” the release quoted Attorney General Merrick B. Garland while indicting China-based chemical manufacturing companies and their employees.
“Chinese chemical companies are fuelling the Fentanyl crisis in the United States by sending Fentanyl precursors, Fentanyl analogues, xylazine and nitazens into our country and into Mexico. These chemicals are used to make Fentanyl and make it especially deadly,” U.S. Drug Enforcement Administrator Anne Milgram was quoted in the Justice Department release. U.S. Chief Postal Inspector Gary R. Barksdale was quoted as saying that the Chinese companies were using counterfeit postage and misusing the mail system of the United States to distribute dangerous substances.
According to the Justice Department release, the manufacture of Fentanyl begins with raw chemicals known as precursors. These are manufactured and distributed by China-based chemical companies, many of which openly advertise on the internet. These China-based manufacturing companies ship Fentanyl precursors around the world, including the United States and Mexico. In Mexico the drug cartels and traffickers combine the chemicals and then distribute Fentanyl throughout the United States to individual users. The China-based chemical companies often attempt to evade law enforcement by using re-shippers in the United States, false return labels, false invoices, fraudulent postage and packaging that conceal the true contents of the parcels and the identity of the distributors. These companies often use crypto-currency transactions to conceal their identities and the location and the movement of their funds. In the controlled society of China, even the private sector has to conform to the policies of the communist party. The Communist Party of China has enormous powers to enact controls over its citizens when necessary. The activities of these companies responsible for the production of Fentanyl precursors are also guided by the policies of the Chinese government, say analysts. It is to be noted that over the past two decades, these companies producing and distributing Fentanyl for illicit consumption overseas, largely the U.S., have generally spared the local population from the destruction caused by these substances, says a study by the National Library of Medicine, which is operated by the U.S. government.