BEIJING: China said Monday the US should do more to stem its own demand for synthetic drugs but pledged despite tensions to boost cooperation to stop the flow of opioids made in the Asian country.

China is believed to be one of the main manufacturers of synthetic drugs — including opioids such as fentanyl — which have been blamed for public health crises around the world.

Ahead of his first state visit to Beijing last year, President Donald Trump declared the US opioid crisis a national public health emergency and called for a halt to “the flood of cheap and deadly fentanyl” that was “manufactured in China”.

China will seek greater cooperation with the US to stem the flow of fentanyl, and such efforts will not be contingent on “any political or economic issues,” Liu Yuejin, vice director of the China National Narcotics Control Commission, told a press briefing.

“But... what’s more important is for the US to do its best to reduce the huge demand and market” for the drug, he said.

“To resolve this issue you have to look outward, but more importantly, you have to look inward. If there are fewer US fentanyl users, then this (Chinese) fentanyl won’t have a market.” China has stepped up efforts to stem the production of drug precursors and new psychoactive substances (NPS), chemicals which mimic the effects of illegal drugs while exploiting loopholes in anti-drug laws, he said.

But “the situation remains grim,” concluded an annual report by the narcotics control commission released Monday. Such substances are readily available for purchase online from Chinese manufacturers, who constantly tweak their formulas to keep them one step ahead of laws that ban the products based on their chemical composition.—AFP