Opinion / Politics

China Targets America’s Rare Earth Vulnerability

chinaWASHINGTON—China is reportedly looking into curbing the export of rare-earth minerals to the United States, which may become a new source of friction between the two countries.

China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology in January proposed draft controls on the production and export of rare-earth minerals and provided 30 days for public comment.

During the comment period, industry executives were asked to assess how U.S. and European companies could be affected if Beijing decided to cut rare-earth exports during a bilateral dispute, the Financial Times reported, citing people involved in the discussions.

“The government wants to know if the U.S. may have trouble making F-35 fighter jets if China imposes an export ban,” a Chinese government adviser told the Financial Times.

Industry executives were also asked to comment on how quickly the United States could secure rare earths from alternative suppliers or increase its production capacity.

Rare earths are 17 metals that are required in the manufacturing of airplanes, computers, cell phones, electricity generation and transmission systems, and advanced electronics.

China controls about 80 percent of the global supply of rare-earth minerals and sees its dominance as leverage that can be used against the West. It’s not clear whether China can really weaponize rare-earth exports, as it could backfire by forcing other countries to increase their own production capacity.

The timeline to increase production capacity at home “could in fact be very, very short” with more government support and industry innovation, according to Pini Althaus, CEO of USA Rare Earth, a mining company that is developing the Round Top rare-earths deposit in Texas.

“The writing has been on the wall for decades, and now we are seeing first-hand why we’ve been raising the alarm that China’s dominance over the rare earth and critical minerals industry is a highly volatile geopolitical concern,” Althaus said in a statement.

“To counter the effort of the CCP to put a chokehold on defense and other high-tech metals, the U.S. and its allies must continue to invest in this space.”

Former President Donald Trump last year signed an executive order to expand and strengthen domestic mining of rare earths and other critical minerals.

“The United States now imports 80 percent of its rare earth elements directly from China, with portions of the remainder indirectly sourced from China through other countries,” Trump stated in the executive order. “In the 1980s, the United States produced more of these elements than any other country in the world, but China used aggressive economic practices to strategically flood the global market for rare earth elements and displace its competitors.”

Last year, a bipartisan group of House and Senate lawmakers also introduced proposals aimed at reducing U.S. dependence on China by providing tax incentives for the rare-earths industry.

“The global pandemic has highlighted our reliance on China to meet our demand for critical minerals that are used in products such as electric and hybrid cars, computers, and military equipment,” Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) told The Epoch Times.

“It is essential for our national security and economic interests that we reduce our nation’s dependence on China for rare earth minerals. I co-sponsored the RARE Act to incentivize domestic production and develop our own consistent supply chain. To remain a world leader in technological and military innovation, we must act.”

The White House didn’t immediately respond to a request from The Epoch Times for comment.

President Joe Biden, during his election campaign, pledged to “accelerate innovation in supply-chain resilience” and address “issues like reliance on rare-earth minerals.”

Reprinted with Permission from - Epoch Times by - Emel Akan

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Concerned Citizen
7 months ago

You folks aren’t listening to our Looney Leader Hidin Joe Biden! He said China is no threat! Pharmaceuticals rare elements, helping election fraud, these are just a few. Seemingly, the majority of Americans agree with and elected Mr. Be fuddled Biden. Personally I firmly believe the 2020 election was won by FRAUD!!!!! Today is CPAC day. Where are the investigations into this????? The Republican party is failing dramatically in seeking the facts on this and so many other conservative issues!!! America is experiencing a leadership vacuum much like the one Rome did just before they fell!!!!!

7 months ago

I said way back in the late 1980s that we would rue the day computers were ever invented. I stand by that statement today. The recent election in this country is a classic example of what I was saying. I can’t believe there are the actual number of people in the United States that would be dumb enough to vote for the Dopey Joe Biden-Kamal Harris ticket that the alleged vote count shows. Methinks there was hanky-panky afoot..

Computers did the voting, and we the people are letting those who programed computerized voting machines to switch votes from one candidate to another, are letting them get away with it. The once free republic of the United States formerly known as “Lady Liberty” is on her death bed. She has been put to death the same way murderers kill their victims with arsenic by feeding them small does of arsenic poison over a long period of time. The exact same thing has been happening to Lady Liberty since 1916 when the Progressives got a foothold in this country.. The socialist Progressives have been feeding her small doses of socialist arsenic for the past 100 years until she is so sick and weak that she will surely succumb. As the late President Ronald Reagan said, and I paraphrase: America is only one generation away from slavery. He was right, and I believe that generation is here now. We just let the computer techy generation vote future generations into slavery.

7 months ago

China controls far more than most people realize. Now that they have an advocate in the white house, we are in deep deep trouble. Their ability and desire to control the world is becoming reality. If we don’t wake up and realize that China is not our friend, we will die like the frog in the pot of heated water.

Gloria P. Sterling
7 months ago

He immediately exposed his “unity” speech as soon as he closed the pipeline. He and the present “so-called” veep need to be deposed and soon!

F. Wood
7 months ago

We need to roll up our shirt sleeves and have independent prospectors explore our country from sea to sea and from the Canadian to Mexican borders to find rare earth deposits and then get busy mining our own rare earth deposits and quit importing them from China and tell the Chinese government that that can shove their supply we’re no longer buying where the son doesn’t shine!

Pat R
7 months ago

There was a deal with an Australian company to build a rare-earth minerals facility in west Texas last year. Let’s hope Biden doesn’t shut that down. Before the US shut down our own mining facilities because China offered it cheaper, we were the leader in production. We did the same for pharmaceuticals, manufacturing of all kinds, because it was cheaper to get China to do it. Chickens willingly went into fox den because of it’s $$ appeal. Trump was getting us back on our own self-sustaining feet.
Biden is a crap shoot as to whether he puts us back into China’s debt and literally destroys the US. He’s got a great start with canceling the KXL pipeline and rejoining Paris Climate Accord. AND he canceled Trump’s getting medications priced the same for Americans as other countries. Can you tell how much Biden loves and fights for the American citizen?

Last edited 7 months ago by Pat R
7 months ago
Reply to  Pat R

Don’t count on that Australian facility getting built. Biden’s EPA personnel will find a way to rescind the building and operating permits. That’s a given at this point.

Biden has already shown he is fully committed to a return to business as usual with China, so don’t expect any pro-American decisions out of his White House. It’s all about facilitating China’s goals and America’s decline.

pete kennedy
7 months ago

And Biden will take another snow day – actually a 4 year snow day. China needs food
but Biden will sleep through breakfast on this one.

David B.
7 months ago

Just like how Great Britain was once a world leader, we too shall be deposed as the leader of a “Free World”. The Global Elitists in charge have determined that the U.S. has had a good run, but it’s time for China to take the reigns. Unfortunately, China is not as benevolent as us, and will rule with the proverbial “Iron Fist”. And they have the Dems unwittingly willing to help usher in a painful “Brave New World”.

7 months ago

I pray that we can cut our dependence on China for anything. Why should we have to go to our enemies, with hat in hand, to get critical supplies of minerals, pharmaceuticals, or anything else, when we can produce it right at home in America, and do it better with true quality control? I’ll tell you why, manufacturers are drunk with “cheap” supplies that mean more profits. It’s all about the $$$$$.

7 months ago

Americas biggest mistake was when Richard Nixon started trade relations with China. I have never been able to understand how one can put your hand directly in the fire and think that you are not goin to get severelly burned.

7 months ago

First, rest in peace, Rush Limbaugh, and condolences to your family.

“It is essential for our national security and economic interests that we reduce our nation’s dependence on China for rare earth minerals…” said Texas Rep. Henry Cuellar.

How about reducing our dependence on China for ANYTHING?! Yes, I’m aware of the economic ramifications, but the closer we approach total independence from hostile global suppliers, the better. That’s why I’m surprised that Cuellar would incentivize mining for these minerals, which seems contrary to his party’s mantra to discourage such non-green activities. Up against the wall, eh?

7 months ago
Reply to  Kim

Don’t worry. Cuellar is just playing to the cameras. Kind of like Biden’s “unity” speech on the day he was sworn in. Just empty talk that will go no where. A sound bite for the media to play once or twice.

The Democrat party is fully committed to a “return to normal” with China and every other foreign government. The Democrat party platform is NOT exactly centered around sound economic and national security ideals. Never has been based on their ultimate objectives for this country. Quite the opposite actually.

On Rush, he will be sorely missed. A truly great communicator who served to educate the masses on the practical values of constitutional conservatism in a way that was readily understandable and relatable by almost anyone able to independently think and reason. That is why his audience was so large and why the left hated him so much.

7 months ago

Anyone with any understanding of where China was going knew it was only a matter of time until China played this card. With President Trump now removed from the chess board, the Chinese have a clear field to leverage America’s self-inflicted dependence on them for critical minerals crucial to defense and consumer needs. The Biden administration certainly won’t know or have the courage to respond correctly to this move to neutralize the Chinese threat. If anything, the Biden administration and the MSM will simply choose to bury this story, rather than address the threat in any meaningful way.

There are many, many ways to wage war against an opponent. China is leveraging a number of them against us and now we have a fool in the White House. A fool who is surrounded by incompetents from the Obama era and sympathetic leftist organizations. So as China marches ahead towards eventual world domination, we are focused on which flavor ice cream Joe likes best or which WH dog is more fun to play with.

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