The U.S. Military’s Greatest Weakness? China ‘Builds’ a Huge Chunk of It

    Michael Peck

    Security, North America

    What could possibly go wrong? 

    “Made in China” is a label that Americans see everyday on everything from clothes to televisions. But when it comes to America’s weapons, Made in China is a label you don’t want to see.

    Despite political, military and trade tensions between America and China, Chinese or Chinese-owned firms play a dangerously large role in U.S. defense production, according to a new Pentagon report.

    For instance, most U.S. military solid rocket engines use a substance called Dechlorane. However, “there is no domestic supplier for this material; the sole source is Occidental Chemical in Belgium,” warns the Department of Defense’s FY 2016 Annual Industrial Capabilities report. “Even more concerning is that the pre-cursor to make Dechlorane came from China. The Chinese source can no longer produce that pre-cursor and so there is now no source for Dechlorane in the world.”

    Another example is how America’s war machine runs on advanced electronics, most of which are made abroad. Ninety percent of the world’s printed circuit boards are manufactured in Asia, and more than half in China. This is a consequence partly as a result of China’s determined effort to build up a domestic research and manufacturing base for their own advanced technologies. Meanwhile, Chinese direct investment in American companies topped $ 64 billion between 1990 and 2015. While this lags behind Europe and Japan (Japan has invested around $ 400 billion), it does give Beijing a sizable stake in the U.S. economy and industries.

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