China dominates the global market in rare-earth minerals, producing 70% of the world’s exports. But this isn’t a gift of nature — it’s the result of 15 years of industrial policy.
The Chinese government identified a critical economic chokehold, invested in building companies, subsidized production to underprice and ultimately destroy competition, and then constructed a monopoly.
U.S. supply chains — both military and commercial — are almost wholly dependent on China for processed rare earths for our advanced weaponry and microelectronics.
Seventeen elements comprise “rare earths,” with unrecognizable names such as ytterbium (used in TVs, computer screens and cancer drugs) and praseodymium (used in magnets and to strengthen metal for aircraft engines).
They are essential to the production of high-tech electronics: rechargeable batteries, computer memory, illuminated screens, medical devices, fluorescent lighting and laser-guided missiles.
For the rest of this column: https://www.aei.org/op-eds/ending-chinas-chokehold-on-rare-earth-minerals/