President Trump suggested that China crack down on the exports of deadly synthetic opioid Fentanyl by using the death penalty, saying the results would be “incredible”
After a meeting between the two leaders at last weekend’s G20 summit in Argentina, Chinese President Xi Jinping promised to stop the flow of Fentanyl into the US. “If China cracks down on this ‘horror drug,’” Trump tweeted on Wednesday, “using the Death Penalty for distributors and pushers, the results will be incredible!”
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that can be 50 to 100 times stronger than morphine. Imported Fentanyl, some from China, has fueled the US’ opioid crisis and was responsible for nearly 30,000 of America’s 72,000 overdose deaths in 2017.
China did not say exactly what penalty it would apply to Fentanyl distributors, and has not hinted that it would execute the pushers. However, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement that China would punish distributors with the “maximum penalty under the law,” which in China is death.
Trump’s recommendation that China execute its drug pushers is a highly unusual one, more reminiscent of the language used by Filipino strongman Rodrigo Duterte than the leader of the free world. Since taking office, Duterte’s extrajudicial killing of drug dealers and distributors has claimed more than 20,000 lives and drawn international condemnation.
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While a US president calling for executions in a foreign country is highly unorthodox, Trump suggested the death penalty for other criminals via Twitter before entering politics. “Got to do something about these missing chidlren (sic) grabbed by the perverts,” he tweeted in 2012. “Too many incidents — fast trial, death penalty.”