A food safety factory shutdown has Americans hunting for baby formula. Readying themselves for a covid-19 lockdown, Chinese in Beijing emptied store shelves. Emerging from lockdown, some in Shanghai are visiting well-provisioned markets. U.S.-China agricultural trade is booming, but many are still being left hungry. Food security, sustainability and safety remain issues.
US-China Economic and Security Review Commission, “China’s Rare Earths Industry and its Role in the International Market,” Nov. 3, 2010
China produces 97 percent of the world’s rare earth elements, a key component in a large assortment of advanced military and civilian technologies. Increasing global demand and Chinese reductions in export quotas over the past six years have led to international concerns about future supply shortages. Although the United States currently is seeking alternative sources for rare earths, the Government Accountability Office has stated that it may take up to 15 years before the United States is able to rebuild its U.S.-sourced rare earth supply chain. In addition, China’s monopoly over rare earths has led to fears of China using its dominance as leverage to influence other nations’ foreign policies. The following backgrounder seeks to provide an overview of China’s rare earth industry and how it affects the United States.