Our country recently received a sobering wakeup call with China’s spy balloon hovering over our skies. The blatant violation of American sovereignty wasn’t just an off-hand stunt, it was emblematic of Communist China’s view that they can get away with any aggressive actions against America with little consequences.
The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) cares first and foremost about displacing the United States from its perch among the world’s powers, and this is particularly true when it comes to powering the world.
As the Biden administration continues to shift American energy policy away from fossil fuels and toward green alternatives, it’s playing right into China’s hands. More specifically, China’s clean energy supremacy should be viewed as a direct threat to the United States.
China controls large parts of the supply chains for critical minerals (e.g., copper, nickel, and lithium) and rare earth elements. These materials are absolutely crucial to clean energy technologies, like electric vehicles and solar panels, as well as a range of essential products from smartphones to fighter jets.
In the modern-day gold rush for these irreplaceable building blocks, China is dominating — with the help of Uyghur forced labor and its predatory Belt and Road Initiative that gives high interest loans to developing countries. While CCP does not have a monopoly over upstream production of critical minerals, they have a stranglehold on the midstream and downstream supply chains.
According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), China refines between 60 and 70 percent of cobalt and lithium and a stunning 90 percent of rare earth elements
Some on the left, however, say that we must appease China so that they will help us fight climate change. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry has said that the CCP’s human rights horrors are “not my lane.”
Just last month, at a Heritage Foundation event about China and Ukraine, a protester took to the stage with a message consistent with Kerry’s actions: “China’s not our enemy, the climate crisis is.”
This mistaken approach toward China is as dangerous as it is delusional. First, from espionage and human rights abuses to supply chain monopolies and intellectual property thefts, the CCP is clearly a massive threat to U.S. sovereignty. Second, China emits more than the whole developed world and is building an astonishing number of coal plants.
Many in the Biden administration, notably John Kerry, are willing to sacrifice national security and human rights concerns in the name of climate policy — but this futile attempt to appease Chairman Xi won’t get the world’s worst emitter to decarbonize any faster than is in its own interests.
John Kerry is the Neville Chamberlain of climate change. China interprets this posture as weakness and is exploiting it.
Thankfully, there are ways to resist dependence on the CCP for critical minerals and rare earth elements — and do more for the environment than Democrats’ approach.
Instead of denying domestic mining, such as mining in Minnesota for copper and nickel, we need more of it. “Made in America” has a national security component, and U.S. mines are much better for our economy, security, and the climate than Chinese mines. Working with our North American allies will also strengthen our supply chains.
Additionally, we must support innovative developments with two power sources that Democrats have often opposed, reliable and carbon-free nuclear and carbon capture for fossil fuels. We should also diversify our energy mix so we are not overly reliant on one power source or one foreign power — then we can protect this country while remaining the world’s leader in reducing emissions.
Countering China’s control of clean energy supply chains won’t be easy, and, at least initially, it will be more expensive. But dependence on the CCP is the highest price of all.
So, while we are focusing on the skies above us right now, let’s not forget the natural resources under our feet — resources we must cultivate to prevent reliance on the CCP for keeping our lights on and homes heated. By mining more, and ensuring reliable access to diverse power sources, we can prevent China from surpassing the United States.