“A great humanitarian gesture,” is what the White House called China's latest pledge to further assist the U.S. in fighting its fentanyl crisis. Although there are different versions of what Chinese President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Donald Trump actually agreed to during their summit in Buenos Aires, I understand that China said it will do more to help stem the outflow of illicitly manufactured fentanyl, the dangerous substance driving synthetic opioid overdose-related deaths in the U.S. to record highs over the past five years.

Although illicit fentanyl appears to come from China, the true size of Chinese involvement is hard to establish. A Guardian report published last January says “online sales from China tracked by the Senate investigators were linked to seven confirmed synthetic opioid-related deaths in the U.S.”

But the whole China discussion is missing the point. The factors behind the fentanyl-related crisis in the U.S. are a true Gordian knot.

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