There Is An Increasing Amount Of Buzz That China Could Invoke The Rare Earth “Nuclear Option” In The Trade War
There Is An Increasing Amount Of Buzz That China Could Invoke The Rare Earth “Nuclear Option” In The Trade War by Michael Snyder for End of the American Dream
If China wants to cause a massive amount of pain for the U.S. economy in this trade war, they certainly have the firepower to do so. Today, China accounts for more than 80 percent of the world’s rare earth element production, and approximately 80 percent of the rare earth elements that are used by U.S. companies are imported from China. The U.S. does have one facility that mines rare earth elements in California, but everything that is mined there has to be shipped to China for processing. So at this point we do not have the ability to supply our own rare earth element needs, and that gives the Chinese a tremendous amount of leverage.
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Without rare earth elements, modern society as we have come to know it would not be able to function.
Today, rare earth elements are used in the production of cell phones, televisions, computers, DVD players, speakers, cameras, electric car motors, jet engines, satellites, lasers, wind turbines and superconductors.
In other words, without rare earth elements we would not be able to produce any of those things. And since the Chinese have such a dominant position in the global marketplace, that gives them an incredible amount of power.
Of course the Chinese understand this very well, and shortly after trade talks with the U.S. completely collapsed Chinese President Xi Jinping made it a point to visit one of the most important rare earth production facilities in China. Needless to say, the purpose of that visit was to send a very clear message to the United States. And once the Trump administration moved to cripple Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei, there was a lot of speculation in the mainstream media that China may consider cutting off rare earth exports to the U.S. in response…
The United States last week threatened to cut supplies of US technology needed by Chinese telecom champion Huawei, which Washington suspects is in bed with China’s military.
The US move has fanned speculation that Xi could impose retaliatory measures and in an indication of the importance of rare earths to the US, Washington did not include them in a tariffs increase on Chinese goods this month.
If China made such a move, it would take the trade war to an entirely different level. Some are referring to this as China’s “nuclear option”, and they will not use it lightly.
But if they do decide to go there, it will be absolutely devastating…
“China could shut down nearly every automobile, computer, smartphone and aircraft assembly line outside of China if they chose to embargo these materials,” James Kennedy, president of ThREE Consulting, wrote Tuesday in National Defense, a US industry publication.
Just consider the implications of that statement for a moment.