The Chinese government is allegedly deliberately leveraging its monopoly on certain key natural resources to undermine the US defense industrial base, according to a US Defense Department led-review, ordered by US President Donald Trump, according to anonymous sources, cited by Foreign Policy.
The yet unreleased study supposedly accuses Beijing of flooding global markets with certain materials critical to the manufacture of fuel used in US missiles and rockets and components in US military jets, among other items. An anonymous administration official said that China is allegedly carrying these actions out with the aim of forcing some US suppliers out of business.
The study also once again reflects US concerns over China’s expanding military and economic power. This would be no surprise, as within the last 10 days US President Donald Trump has accused China of allegedly wishing to meddle in the incoming November US mid-term elections, without providing any evidence whatsoever. The US also sanctioned a Chinese military body of purchasing Russian S-400 missile defense systems. China in response cancelled the annual diplomatic and security dialogue, with the reason being the unavailability of a senior Chinese military official to meet with US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis.
The trade war is also spilling in regional interests, with US and allies challenging China in the South China Sea. A US navy warship took part in a freedom of navigation exercise, during which a Chinese warship reportedly approached as close as 45 yards from the warship, in what US defense officials called an unprofessional and unethical maneuver. China also refused entry of a US warship into the port of Hong Kong.
US B-52 bomber jets flew on a patrol mission above the South China Sea, which led to a Chinese response of a live fire drill with fighter jets of their own above the same area.
The study, according to Foreign Policy’s two anonymous sources, is expected to be released in the following weeks. It calls out to China for using underhanded trade practices to hut US businesses.
According to Foreign Policy’s unnamed sources, there is only one US producer of a key compound used to fuel rockets, strategic missiles, and intercontinental ballistic missiles: ammonium perchlorate. China, which controls much of the world’s supply of this compound, sells it at artificially low prices, undercutting the single US supplier.
“China uses their control of natural resources and other materials to negatively impact our industrial base as a national strategy,” the unnamed administration official said. “This has a very real impact on our ability to maintain an industrial base.”
The study also emphasizes that China controls the world’s supply of processed rare-earth minerals, which are used in electronic devices such as cell phones, as well as in every US military aircraft, according to another anonymous source.
One of the study’s conclusions is that “China has deliberately organized its export of resources and its manufacturing trade policy in order to undercut America’s lead in critical capability,” the source said.
The study also supposedly identifies specific vulnerabilities in the defense industrial base and makes recommendations to strengthen US defense companies. It calls for increase stability in Department of Defense budgets, targeted investment in critical industrial capabilities and acceleration of workforce development efforts to grow domestic STEM and critical trade skills, according to a third anonymous source.
According to Foreign Policy, the review was ordered by the US President in July 2017, but has been long delayed.
“Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis led a whole of government effort that identified and assessed risk, and made recommendations to the President to ensure a robust, resilient, secure, and ready manufacturing and defense industrial base,” said Defense Department spokesman Lt. Col. Mike Andrews. “The department of defense looks forward to the report’s release, and working through a whole of government approach to implement the report’s recommendations.”
The escalation in tensions between China and the US appears to be increasing, with the US constantly accusing China of various misconduct, without the provision of any evidence.