China is exploring limiting the export of rare earth minerals that are crucial for the manufacture of American F-35 fighter jets and other sophisticated weaponry, according to Financial Times sources involved in a government consultation.
The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology last month proposed draft controls on the production and export of 17 rare earth minerals in China, which controls about 80% of global supply.
Industry executives said government officials had asked them how badly companies in the US and Europe, including defense contractors, would be affected if China restricted rare earth exports during a bilateral dispute, reported the FT.
“The government wants to know if the US may have trouble making F-35 fighter jets if China imposes an export ban,” said a Chinese government adviser who asked not to be identified. Industry executives added that Beijing wanted to better understand how quickly the US could secure alternative sources of rare earths and increase its own production capacity.