Two US senators have proposed a law aimed at ending China's chokehold on rare-earth metal supplies, a statement by the lawmakers said Friday. The law, proposed by Democrat Mark Kelly and Republican Tom Cotton, would aim to ensure the United States can guarantee its supplies of rare-earth minerals.
Cotton said in the statement that the Chinese Communist Party has a chokehold on global rare-earth element supplies, which are used in everything from batteries to fighter jets.
He said that the United States' dependence on the CCP for extraction and processing of these elements is critical to winning the strategic competition against China and protecting national security.
According to the United States Geological Survey USGS, eighty percent of the United States' rare-earth imports in 2019 were from China. The bill aims to protect America from the threat of rare-earth element supply disruptions, and reduce our dependence on China, and to reduce our dependence on China, the statement said.
The law would require the departments of the Interior and Defense to create a strategic reserve of rare earth minerals by 2025.
The reserve would be asked to respond to the needs of the army, the tech sector and other essential infrastructure for a year in the event of a supply disruption. It also aims to ensure greater transparency on the origins of the components, restricts the use of rare earth minerals from China in sophisticated defense equipment, and asks the Commerce Department to investigate Beijing's unfair trade practices and impose higher customs duties accordingly.
Kelly said that our bipartisan Bill will strengthen America's position as a global leader in technology by reducing China's reliance on adversaries like China for rare earth elements.
With 44 million tons of reserves, China has some of the world's largest deposits of rare-earth metals, and benefits from looser environmental regulations than many of its competitors, according to the USGS.
The deposits have been used by Beijing to exert political pressure. In 2010 China halted rare-earth exports to Japan in response to a territorial dispute.