The Herald reports:
Beijing has dropped a bombshell in its escalating trade war with the United States. With one shot, it could shoot-down the entire F-35 stealth fighter production program. It could cripple Silicon Valley. It could send Apple into administration.China has, by far, the worlds’ greatest reserves of rare earths — the mineral sands that contain the exotic elements crucial in much high-performance modern technology.
“United States, don’t underestimate China’s ability to strike back,” the official mouthpiece of the ruling Chinese Communist Party, the People’s Daily , writes.
And it’s all about dirt.
Circuit boards. Batteries. Sensors. Thrusters. All need metals of specific conductivity, heat resistance, weight, strength …
“Will rare earths become a counter weapon for China to hit back against the pressure the United States has put on for no reason at all? The answer is no mystery,” the People’s Daily declared rhetorically. “Don’t say we didn’t warn you!”
And the threat, which economic analysts are calling Beijing’s ‘nuclear option’, is very real.
The equally nationalistic Chinese newspaper Global T imes warned that China has plenty of ways to retaliate against the US, including the threat of cutting off supplies of rare earths.
Rare earths are a group of 17 chemical elements which have properties key for the production of everything from satellites to jet engines.
China last year produced 78 per cent of the world’s rare earths, according to researchers at Bank of America Merrill Lynch. The US relies upon it for up to 80 per cent of its imports.
Can you imagine the backlash against Trump if his trade policies lead to Apple being unable to produce any more iPhones.