China's control over global rare earth metal supply could prove to be decisive in future conflict with U.S.
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As demonstrated in the hypothetical scenario at the beginning of this paper, China’s hold on rare earths may be a decisive factor in a future confrontation with the United States. The numerous weapons systems that rely on rare earths technology place the United States at a strategic disad- vantage with regards to China. If a prolonged, large-scale conflict between the two nations broke out over a Taiwan Strait or South China Sea dispute, the United States may find itself squeezed to obtain sufficient supplies of rare earths to manufacture replacement parts or systems to remain engaged in the fight. Much as the lack of secure access to oil was crippling to the Germans at the end of World War II, rare earths could play a similar, pivotal role in a future conflict with China. In the air-to-air arena alone, the requirement to replace expended stockpiles of advanced air-to-air missiles could become a factor very quickly based on the number of aircraft China would be capable of employing.