China is ready to try to dominate the trade war with the United States by cutting off its supply of rare earth minerals to the U.S., Chinese media reported Wednesday.
Rare earth minerals contain unique elements used by the U.S. in cell phones, hybrid cars and cancer treatment. They also play an important role in U.S. defense, from computers to aircraft engines.
“Waging a trade war against China, the United States risks losing the supply of materials that are vital to sustaining its technological strength,” began a commentary published Wednesday in the Communist newspaper People’s Daily.
China has led mining efforts of rare earth minerals, becoming the world’s largest producer because of its loose environmental restrictions and low processing costs.
The United States imported 80% of its rare earth compounds and metals from China between 2014 and 2017, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. The estimated value of rare-earth compounds and metals it imported last year reached $160 million, an increase from $137 million in 2017.