LIVE: Pentagon Spokesman John Kirby Holds Defense Department Press Briefing

Date: 2021-02-16 20:40:52

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(Feb. 16) Watch live as Pentagon Spokesman John Kirby briefs reporters and responds to questions on a range of issues at the U.S. Department of Defense on Tuesday, February 16, 2021, in Washington, D.C.

China is exploring whether it can hurt U.S. defense contractors by limiting supplies of rare-earth minerals that are critical to the industry, the Financial Times reported.

Industry executives said government officials had asked them how badly companies in the U.S. and Europe would be affected if China restricted rare-earth exports during a bilateral dispute, the FT reported, citing people it didn’t identify involved in the consultation.

The move throws the spotlight back on the group of elements that are used in everything from smartphones to fighter jets, and have previously been a focus in the deteriorating trade relationship between China and the U.S. The Asian country controls most of the world’s mined output, with an even tighter hold of the processing industry, leaving American industries with few avenues to immediately secure short-term supply if curbs were to be put in place.

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