Trump praises China for executing drug dealers: 'I appreciate that very much'

Lily Puckett

Donald Trump has praised China for its policy of executing drug dealers.

In a speech at the Rx Drug Abuse and Heroin Summit in Atlanta on Wednesday, the president turned to China while talking about the country's plans to upgrade the criminal status of fentanyl saying: 'They’re gonna make it a major crime. It’s not a crime now. It’s down as an industrial drug, and they’re gonna make it a crime."

He then added that he 'appreciates' the country’s policy of executing the dealers of drugs.

"They’re going to charge people with the highest level of crime,’ he told the audience at the summit. ‘And in China, unlike in our country, the highest level of crime is very, very high. It’s the ultimate. You pay the ultimate price. So I appreciate that very much."

China is one of at least four countries Amnesty International listed as executing criminals for drug-related offences in a 2017 report. Amnesty International estimates the number of drug-related executions in the country to be in the thousands, but cannot confirm that number, as China's executions are considered a state secret.

In the same speech, the president made a bizarre and un-cited claim that the number of deaths in the current drug crisis is higher than the figure being reported.

"Each year, more than 70,000 precious American lives are lost to the opioid and drug crisis," he said, referring to an oft-reported statistic from 2017. "In my opinion, the number is much higher than that."

The president did not elaborate on this opinion.

The Rx Drug Abuse and Heroin Summit calls itself "the largest annual gathering of stakeholders - from federal to family - to discuss what's working in prevention and treatment." Its website encouraged people in recovery, people affected by family members’ drug use, and law enforcement officials to attend.

The president also introduced his wife Melania, who spoke about her work with children affected by the opioid crisis.