ACCORDING to a new Pentagon-led report seeking to mend weaknesses in core U.S. industries vital to national security, China represents a “significant and growing risk” to the supply of materials essential to the U.S. military.
The nearly 150-page report concluded that there are nearly 300 vulnerabilities that could affect critical materials and components essential to the U.S. military, as reported by Reuters on Tuesday, October 2.
A series of recommendations to strengthen American industry, including by expanding direct investment in sectors deemed critical was included in the analysis.
China was given heavy emphasis in the report, singled out for its domination in the global supply of rare earth minerals critical in U.S. military applications. China’s global profile in the supply of certain kinds of electronics as well as chemicals used in U.S. munitions was noted, as well.
“A key finding of this report is that China represents a significant and growing risk to the supply of materials and technologies deemed strategic and critical to the U.S. national security,” the report read.
The report could magnify trade tensions with China as its relations with the U.S. relations are already fraught to begin with over issues such as bitter trade war between the world’s two largest economies adding to tensions over cyber spying, self-ruled Taiwan and freedom of navigation in the South China Sea. The report can bolster the Trump administration’s “Buy American” initiative, which aims to help drum up billions of dollars more in arms sales for U.S. manufacturers and create more jobs.
Vice President Mike Pence on Thursday accused China of efforts to undermine President Donald Trump ahead of the November 6 congressional elections. He claimed that Beijing was “meddling in America’s democracy.”
His comments echoed Trump’s sentiments at the United Nations last month — that China “ has been attempting to interfere in our upcoming 2018 election.”
Chinese officials ultimately rejected the charge.
The report also examined shortcomings that contribute to weakness in the American defense industry. It noted the roller-coaster U.S. defense budgets that make it difficult for companies to predict government demand as well as the weaknesses in U.S. science and technology education.
“Although its findings are not likely to move markets, they present an alarming picture of U.S. industrial decay driven by both domestic and foreign factors,” Defense consultant Loren Thompson, who has close ties to Boeing Co and other companies, wrote.