Donald Trump plans to make good on one of the multiple threats delivered in the infamous August 23 tweet storm that found the president railing against China and Jerome Powell, much to the chagrin of markets, which promptly crashed in one of the worst sessions of the year on Wall Street.
In addition to “hereby ordering” US companies to move out of China, Trump also threatened sweeping searches of inbound mail.
“Also, I am ordering all carriers, including Fed Ex, Amazon, UPS and the Post Office, to SEARCH FOR & REFUSE all deliveries of Fentanyl from China or anywhere else!”, Trump shrieked, on the way to reiterating his claim that Xi did not make good on a promise to crack down on illegal shipments of the drug.
According to the ubiquitous “people familiar with the matter”, Trump is planning an executive order aimed at compelling Beijing to assist the US in fighting the opioid epidemic, much as the administration has bullied Mexico into securing America’s borders.
“The draft order would target foreign shippers routing deliveries through the US Postal Service — not the two largest US couriers UPS and FedEx”, sources told Bloomberg. The push is clearly aimed at China, but the order will not be limited to the country, one of the people said.
For their part, China’s National Narcotics Control Commission has suggested the White House is being disingenuous about the fentanyl issue. “Fentanyl abuse in the US is mainly due to problems in the country itself”, the commission said, in a statement at a briefing in Beijing this month. “China hasn’t found any fentanyl smuggling cases since May”.
Trump and Peter Navarro have repeatedly insisted that one reason why the White House escalated trade tensions anew on August 1 was tied to Xi’s failure to stem shipments of fentanyl, but critics (many in China) say that’s a ruse.
“Trump’s tweet criticizing China’s fentanyl control is inconsistent with facts”, Liu Yuejin, Vice Commissioner of China National Narcotics Control Commission, remarked last week. Liu went on to say that any assertions about fentanyl illegally manufactured in China coming into the US through Mexico “are the fantasies of some US politicians”.
Bloomberg’s sources say the new order will likely be unveiled within months, and will permit the Postal Service to cease doing business with foreign entities sending illegal substances. A first violation will land you on a “shame list”, while subsequent offenses would see entities banned from making deliveries to the US.
The effort could ultimately be a mechanism for targeting Chinese firms, much as Beijing has sniped at FedEx.
Apparently, Navarro is spearheading the push to get the executive order rolled out. The People’s Daily on Tuesday accused Peter of trafficking in “lies”. “All these preposterous comments are not constructive at all, and go against the larger direction of the two sides taking real action to create favorable conditions for the negotiations”, the People’s Daily said.
China would almost surely retaliate to the planned executive order, should it see the light of day later this year.