U.S. notes China’s tangible efforts in combating drug trade

High-level talks between top U.S. and Chinese officials in Vienna focused on counternarcotics efforts and addressing Chinese concerns over U.S. visa restrictions for Chinese students.

A high-level discussion between the top U.S. homeland security official and his Chinese counterpart is instilling hope in Washington that ongoing negotiations could eventually reduce the influx of drugs like fentanyl into the United States. U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas engaged in talks with Chinese Public Security Minister Wang Xiaohong in Vienna on Sunday, focusing on halting the distribution of fentanyl and the precursor chemicals used to manufacture the potent synthetic opioid.

A U.S. summary of the meeting with the Chinese official described the discussions as “frank and productive,” and senior officials briefed reporters on Tuesday, highlighting indications of progress. A senior official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, informed reporters that the meetings were highly productive.

The initial meeting between Mayorkas and Wang lasted approximately four hours and continued over dinner.
Officials also disclosed that there was an agreement between both parties for scientists from both countries to convene for further discussions later this month. These discussions will focus on reviewing emerging trends related to the production and trade of chemicals necessary for manufacturing fentanyl and other drugs.

The Vienna meeting on Sunday followed a virtual meeting last month between Mayorkas and Wang, as well as a gathering of the U.S.-PRC Counternarcotics Working Group on January 30th.

According to China’s state-run Xinhua news agency, Chinese officials also characterized the meeting in Vienna as constructive but emphasized their focus on U.S. visa restrictions for Chinese students.

Wang Xiaohong, representing the People’s Republic of China, conveyed to Mayorkas that the U.S. should cease what they view as unwarranted harassment and interrogation of Chinese students. They emphasized the importance of ensuring fair treatment and dignity for Chinese citizens upon entry to the U.S.
A second senior U.S. official who briefed reporters on Monday acknowledged that Chinese officials raised concerns about current U.S. visa restrictions but chose not to provide further details, stating that the primary focus of the meeting was on counternarcotics efforts.

The meeting between Mayorkas and Wang in Vienna occurred two days after discussions in Munich between U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, where various issues were addressed, including Beijing’s efforts in counternarcotics and U.S. procedures regarding searches of Chinese nationals.