WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Defense Department has submitted a report to Congress on rare earth minerals as it looks to reduce American reliance on China, the Pentagon said on Wednesday, amid mounting concern in Washington about Beijing’s role as a supplier.
Although the Pentagon did not provide details of the report, it said the document was tied to a federal program designed to bolster domestic production capabilities through targeted economic incentives.
Earths - Group - Elements - Range - Consumer
Rare earths are a group of 17 chemical elements used in a wide range of consumer products, from iPhones to electric car motors, as well as military jet engines, satellites and lasers.
Rising tensions between the United States and China have sparked concerns that Beijing could use its dominant position as a supplier of rare earths for leverage in the trade war between the world’s top two economic powers.
China - % - US - Earth - Imports
Between 2004 and 2017, China accounted for 80% of U.S. rare earth imports.
“The department continues to work closely with the president, Congress and the industrial base to mitigate U.S. reliance on China for rare earth minerals,” Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Mike Andrews, a Pentagon spokesman, told Reuters.
Department - Defense - Production - Act - III
“The department recently submitted a Defense Production Act III rare earth mineral report to Congress, demonstrating the department’s continued focus on reducing reliance on China,” Andrews said.
While China has so far not explicitly said it would restrict rare earths sales to the United States, Chinese media has strongly implied this will happen.
Commentary - United - States - China - Ability
In a commentary headlined “United States, don’t underestimate China’s ability to strike back”, the official People’s Daily noted the United States’ “uncomfortable” dependence on rare earths from China.
“Will rare earths become a counter weapon for China to hit back against the pressure the United States has put on...
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