In a recent interview with CNBC, Senator Rob Portman claimed that China could stop all the fentanyl from being shipped to the U.S.? But is it true that China holds such power?
I have done some research and it doesn't seem that China can easily stop the drug from being shipped. From rand.org:
The situation is similar for China’s chemical regulators, who cannot adequately enforce regulations on all manufacturers and distributors.49 Regulatory gaps have led to a large increase in the number of unlicensed or “semi-legitimate” chemical manufacturers or distributors.50 There are reports that use of shell facilities and weak oversight lets some chemical and pharmaceutical manufacturers avoid scrutiny, allowing companies to produce and sell beyond their legal limits.51In 2007, industry insiders estimated that uncertified chemical manufacturers produced half of the APIs sold in China, with most exported to foreign markets.52 It is unclear what proportion of uncertified manufacturers are supplying international API markets today or what amount of synthetic opioids is produced and exported via shell entities.
Gaps in regulatory design, the division of responsibility between provincial and central governments, and a lack of oversight and government and corporate accountability increase opportunities for corruption. The Regional Representative of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Jeremy Douglas, has asserted that corruption contributes to the ongoing illicit manufacturing and export of synthetic drugs and precursors. In 2015, after a major seizure of two and half tons of methamphetamine in Hong Kong—one of the biggest seizures in Asia at the time—Douglas stated, “To operate a lab like this, you need a lot of chemicals, which are legitimate, regulated chemicals from the pharmaceutical industry. There is some kind of corruption in the chemical/pharmaceutical industry taking place allowing this to happen.”53 The Department of State also points to insufficient regulatory oversight and corruption of local government officials as explanations behind illicit drug and chemical production
Chinese authorities recognize these problems, and the government has made some efforts to expel corrupt officials. The high-profile conviction and execution of the former director of the forerunner to the CFDA in 2007 is one such example. The central government has been tough on local officials and businesses, arresting nearly 2,000 people in a nationwide crackdown on counterfeit drug manufacturers in 2012. In 2015, President Xi Jinping demanded that authorities increase penalties and stiffen drug regulation. This past March, the central government proposed another reorganization of the CFDA, combining it with other regulatory entities. Details are not final, but industry observers suggest that this reorganization is intended to extend the agency’s regulatory reach and reduce gaps in oversight.