FIRST ON FOX: Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., is seeking answers from the U.S. Department of Commerce on why the Chinese Communist Party’s Institute for Forensic Sciences was removed from the department’s Entity List, which restricts trade from certain groups or individuals.
Entities listed by Commerce are typically involved in activities contrary to U.S. national security or foreign policy interests. The trade control list includes foreign individuals, businesses, research institutions, government organizations and other branches that are subject to specific licensing requirements for the export, re-export or transfer of certain items.
“This deeply misguided decision to lift sanctions on the CCP — as China continues to indoctrinate our children through social media and poison Americans with fentanyl — will only embolden President Xi,” Marshburn wrote to the department’s secretary Gina Raimondo on Friday.
Sens. Bill Hagerty, R-Tenn.; JD Vance, R-Ohio; and Katie Boyd Britt, R-Ala., co-signed the letter.
The department reportedly removed the CCP-run institute in hopes of halting China’s illicit fentanyl precursor exports.
“While we agree that stopping the CCP’s exportation of these precursors is paramount and long overdue, your administration’s strategy is misguided,” Blackburn wrote. “By preemptively removing the Institute from the entity list, you continue to show weakness on the world stage.”
“We must also continue to stand for human rights around the world. In 2020, President Trump put the Institute on the sanctions list because of their abuse of the Uyghurs. The CCP — and the Institute for Forensic Sciences — subjects the Uyghurs to unthinkable evil,” the letter continued.
Blackburn also linked America’s fentanyl crisis to the Biden administration’s border policies and urged a focus on border security measures and to “punish the criminal Mexican cartels who have partnered with the Chinese to poison Americans with fentanyl.”
In July, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said that the Chinese communist regime “bears responsibility” for helping tackle the fentanyl crisis in the U.S. — pointing to areas in which China can assist the U.S. in stopping the drug getting into the country.
“The precursor chemicals, many of which have legal use, the precursor chemicals, the pill presses that are used to manufacture fentanyl, it’s extremely easy to manufacture, it’s extremely quick, it’s easy to conceal,” he said at the time. “We seized vertical, long vertical candles that were hollowed out with pills. China bears responsibility. We need their assistance in interdicting the chemicals and pill presses that are going in volumes that don’t reflect legitimate use.”
Illicit fentanyl is typically created in Mexico by cartels in labs with the use of precursors shipped over from China. The U.S. has called for an international coalition to combat the crisis and has appealed for help from both China and Mexico.
Fox News’ Adam Shaw contributed to this report.