HomeEnvironment & Climate NewsChina Targets US Weakness for Afghan Rare Earths, Taiwan Chips

China Targets US Weakness for Afghan Rare Earths, Taiwan Chips

by Larry Bell

Beijing is the big winner as the Biden administration trades away American energy independence for reliance upon China for a vast majority of rare earth minerals needed to transition away from petroleum-fueled cars to electric vehicles (EVs) and the nighttime solar energy storage to recharge them.

Beijing has also made no secret of its intentions to exploit current Biden administration weakness in defense of Taiwan, a major source of computer chips that go into virtually all of today’s myriad electronic devices … very much including both conventional petrol and those plug-in vehicles.

Beijing Baits Biden’s “Build Back Better” Boondoggles

Last month, as a centerpiece of his administration’s, ”Build Back Better” green new pipe dream, Joe Biden signed an executive order demanding that half of all new vehicles sold by 2030 be zero-emission models.

This definition applies to plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs), battery electric vehicles (BEVs), and fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs), but traditional hybrids and newer mid-hybrid technology vehicles don’t qualify.

In parallel, a proposed massive Democrat spendathon earmarks $7.5 billion for charging stations to service a transition from 3% of current electric vehicles (EVs) to 50% in the next nine years … while simultaneously replacing the 80% of U.S. energy we get from hydrocarbons by increasing the paltry 3% now intermittently supplied by wind and solar.

Then, in addition, EV carmakers are driving at breakneck speed to cash in on expected Biden White House rules mandating a 3.7% annual increase in fuel efficiency for the next two years … a figure agreed between Ford and three other auto companies and the state of California during the Barack Obama years which was later erased by Donald Trump.

In any case, they — and we consumers— may have little choice in the matters.

Access to rare earth supplies in meeting these central government-ordained EV demands are only part of the problems those auto companies are already encountering in responding to rich promises of generous federal and state taxpayer subsidies.

General MotorsFordToyotaVolkswagenHondaNissan, and Subaru have all had to adjust production as a result of the scarcity of semiconductor chips, a condition that will only become more precarious as EV numbers multiply.

The chip crisis has highlighted to car makers how dependent their appetite for these processors has become.

Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger has reported that semiconductors would constitute one-fifth of the cost of the materials that go into making all premium-segment cars by 2030, up from 4% in 2019.

Daimler AG CEO Ola Källenius recently told The Wall Street Journal that the German company’s Mercedes-Benz luxury car business has already had to juggle chip supplies, encountering delays for some models, and is giving priority to its most-profitable vehicles for processor applications.

Afghanistan: Biden’s China Gift That Will Keep on Giving

Among a long list of losses resulting from the Biden administration’s unconditional surrender of Afghanistan to the Taliban and their Chinese partners are raw materials critical to the production of those so-called ”renewable” energy technologies, including more than $1 trillion in vast raw earth riches.

The International Energy Agency recently reported that the growth of these systems and EVs could increase critical mineral demand — including everything from copper and rare earths to lithium — six-fold by 2040. Both the Biden and Trump administrations have expressed alarm regarding the short supplies of these essential resources.

At the same time, America’s import reliance on these minerals has doubled in just the past two decades, China has amassed stunning control over 70% of the world’s lithium supplies and 85% of rare earths supply chains to dominate global industries and jobs that depend on them.

Applying forced labor and toxic environmental policies, China now also produces 70% of the world’s solar modules, and the country will soon be home to more than 100 lithium-ion battery mega factories, the technological heart of the EV revolution.

Taiwan: An Indefensible Free World Threat

Afghanistan withdrawal chaos has sent a particularly urgent warning to Taiwan, a central target of exploitive Chinese Communist Party territorial ambitions that produces 92% of the world’s most sophisticated sub-7 nanometer semiconductor computer chips.

The island is home to Taiwan Semiconductor Co. (TSMC), the world’s largest foundry for producing advanced chips that form the backbone of many sectors in the rapidly evolving digital economy, ranging again from automotive — to smartphones — to advanced weapons systems.

An editorial in the Global Times, a Chinese state-affiliated tabloid, issued that warning very clearly, stating: “From what happened in Afghanistan, [Taiwan] should perceive that once a war breaks out in the Straits, the island’s defense will collapse in hours, and the U.S. military won’t come to help.”

The editorial added: ”Such a war would mean unthinkable costs for the U.S. in front of which the so-called special importance of Taiwan is nothing but wishful thinking.”

Russia and Iran Join the Celebratory Winners’ Circle

America’s friends and foes alike have good reasons to judge Afghanistan’s abandonment both in terms of its global terrorist consequences and what it reveals about the Biden administration’s worldwide objectives, capabilities, and resolve.

Iran, China, and Russia have announced plans for joint naval drills in the Persian Gulf this year or early next year.

Iran and China, both of which border Afghanistan, have made it clear that they intend to work with the Taliban government. Tehran, a major China oil supplier, also serves as Russia’s Middle East partner in bolstering Syria’s Bashar al-Assad regime.

We can be quite certain that Tehran mullahs are cheering the Taliban victory over their ”great Satan” as evidence of White House impotence as Biden negotiators desperately pursue renewal of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.

As for Moscow, Joe Biden was badly mistaken if he imagined that Vladimir Putin would reward him for canceling the Keystone XL pipeline to end global warming, and then generously dropping Donald Trump’s sanctions that now enable Russia to complete construction of its Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline to Germany.

When Joe asked Vlad for permission to base U.S. aircraft in Russian-controlled areas adjacent to Afghanistan, the answer was a resounding ”Nyet!”

So yes, the U.S. Afghanistan retreat has provided tragic reasons, which are fully justified, for adversaries and allies to distrust America’s resolve and competence as a world leader.

Larry Bell is an endowed professor of space architecture at the University of Houston. He founded the Sasakawa International Center for Space Architecture (SICSA) and the space architecture graduate program. 

This article was originally published on America Out Loud and is republished with permission.

Larry Bell, Ph.D.
Larry Bell is an endowed professor of space architecture at the University of Houston. He founded the Sasakawa International Center for Space Architecture (SICSA) and the space architecture graduate program. He is the author of several books, including "Reinventing Ourselves: How Technology is Rapidly and Radically Transforming Humanity" (2019), "Thinking Whole: Rejecting Half-Witted Left & Right Brain Limitations" (2018), "Reflections on Oceans and Puddles: One Hundred Reasons to be Enthusiastic, Grateful and Hopeful” (2017), "Cosmic Musings: Contemplating Life Beyond Self" (2016), and "Scared Witless: Prophets and Profits of Climate Doom" (2015). He is currently working on a new book with Buzz Aldrin, "Beyond Footprints and Flagpoles."

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