Department of Defense Uses Defense Production Act To Increase Metals Mining After China Implements Export Controls
Per a Pentagon spokesperson that was in contact with Reuters, the US Defense Department announced on July 7, 2023 that it is invoking the Defense Production Act to increase the domestic mining and processing capacity of two rare earth metals, gallium and germanium. These rare earth metals are critical for manufacturing high-tech chips for the US defense industry.
Reuters stated that the Pentagon possesses a strategic germanium stockpile but no gallium stockpiles. The move to activate the Defense Production Act comes following China’s announcement on Monday July that it will enact export controls on the two metals, alluding to “safeguard national security and interests.”
“The (Defense) Department is proactively taking steps using Defense Production Act Title III authorities to increase domestic mining and processing of critical materials for the microelectronics and space supply chain, including gallium and germanium,” the DoD spokesperson stated.
As Tyler Durden of ZeroHedge News observed, “gallium is most common in semiconductors, transistors, and small electronic devices. It’s also used to make LEDs.” He added that military-grade Gallium Nitride is “found in cutting-edge weapon technology that US defense companies produce.”
With respect to germanium, Durden explained its use and why rare earth metals are critical resources in the great power competition between the US and China:
Three of the most common uses for germanium are rectifiers, transistors, and weapons-sighting systems.
What’s most alarming is China controls the world’s processing and refining of rare earth metals.
These metals aren’t just critical to the military-industrial complex but also the ‘green’ energy transition.
On July 5, former vice-minister of commerce Wei Jianguo was interviewed by state media outlet China Daily. He revealed that Chinese authorities have sufficient tools at their disposal in order to counter the Biden regime’s efforts to increase technology restrictions. He indicated that China’s decision to restrict gallium and germanium exports would “cause panic in certain countries, but also exert heavy pain in them.”
Wei indicated the following: “This is just the beginning of China’s countermeasures, and China’s toolbox has many more types of measures available. If the high-tech restrictions on China become tougher in the future, China’s countermeasures will also escalate.”
Indeed, there’s economic competition between the US and China. This is healthy, as it compels policymakers in both countries to craft policies that foster economic growth and development.
However, in the US case, it has dropped the ball by completely opening its immigration system to countries like China, who are notorious for embedding spies in Western countries, and opening trade with the East Asian giant, who is similarly a questionable trading partner.
Economic nationalism and immigration restriction are the obvious antidotes to those issues. However, going the warmonger route is the height of political malpractice. After all, we’re dealing with a nuclear power in China here. The best way to deal with China is America First nationalism, which consists of economic nationalism, immigration patriotism, and a realist foreign policy.
Neoconservative and neoliberal approaches to China should be thoroughly discarded.