Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador recently met with Chinese President Xi Jinping in person for the first time, reaffirming their countries’ friendly relations and agreeing to collaborate in combatting fentanyl trafficking. During the meeting, President López Obrador extended an invitation to President Xi to visit Mexico in the near future.
The visit will reportedly focus on Mexico’s lithium industry, as well as its renewable energy project known as Plan Sonora, and the Interoceanic Corridor of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec (CIIT), a railway system that aims to connect the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. Mexico, which nationalized its lithium industry last year, is home to significant lithium reserves and ranks tenth in the world.
Meanwhile, China, the largest consumer of lithium globally, relies on the material for the production of electric vehicle batteries and various electronic devices. President Xi expressed interest in expanding cooperation between China and Mexico in finance, electric vehicles, and other emerging industries, emphasizing the need to deepen cooperation in areas such as infrastructure construction.
Both leaders acknowledged the strengthening friendship between China and Mexico, with President Xi praising President López Obrador’s leadership and the achievements of the Mexican government in promoting national development. President López Obrador emphasized the importance of bilateral relations and expressed eagerness to further enhance the friendship between the two countries.
The meeting took place on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in San Francisco, California. President López Obrador and President Xi concluded the encounter by reaffirming their commitment to maintaining good relations for the benefit of their respective peoples.
Additionally, the leaders agreed to provide support to households affected by Hurricane Otis, a devastating Category 5 hurricane that caused widespread destruction in Acapulco. They also pledged to address the illegal trafficking of synthetic drug precursor chemicals and strengthen trade and investment between China and Mexico.
China plays a significant role in the illicit fentanyl trade, being the largest supplier of essential precursor chemicals for the production of fentanyl by Mexican drug cartels, which is then smuggled into the United States. Fentanyl is an extremely potent synthetic opioid that has led to a surge in drug overdose deaths in the United States.
During the Biden Administration, fentanyl smuggling through the U.S.-Mexico border has increased dramatically, resulting in a rise in drug overdose deaths. In a previous interview, the Sheriff of Pinal County, Arizona, Mark Lamb, claimed that China supplies Mexican cartels with the necessary ingredients to produce fentanyl, which is then trafficked into the United States.
Both President López Obrador and President Xi have previously denied the involvement of Mexico and China, respectively, in the illegal fentanyl trade. However, the Mexican government’s letter to President Xi in April requested his assistance in controlling fentanyl imports to Mexico.