Ex-House Intel chair says US asleep too long as China amassed stockpile of minerals key to computing

"I think we're putting ourselves at a major disadvantage," Devin Nunes said.

Published: February 15, 2023 6:18pm

Updated: February 15, 2023 8:36pm

Former chairman of the House Intelligence Committee Devin Nunes says the United States was complacent for too long as China amassed a huge stockpile of the minerals key to manufacturing high-tech goods ranging from computer chips to solar panels, and now is playing a difficult game of catch-up.

Nunes referred to what he called "Chinese mini cities" being set up in Africa to facilitate the mining of these rare earth minerals.

"This even started back in the mid to late 2000s," Nunes told "Just the News, No Noise" Wednesday. "You started seeing massive Chinese investment. They would move an entire people, like in one case I remember seeing a little city ... foreign country leadership told me there were 25,000 Chinese that were there."

Nunes explained that they were there to build roads and also invest in mining, but there was more to it than just that.

"The concern way back then was most importantly, they were looking for access to not just oil, but also they were looking at these rare earth elements," he explained.

"Now why were they looking at that?" Nunes continued. "Because they knew that in order to have a computer-based economy with computer chips, and all kinds of electronics, you need these rare earth elements."

Nunes said that as a result of this and because the U.S. didn't act sooner, America is at a huge disadvantage with manufacturing as compared to China.

"They were finding, locating ... building out this industrial capacity in order to mine those rare earth elements and take them back to China so that they can then sell us things like microchips and solar panels," Nunes said. 

"I think we're putting ourselves at a major disadvantage trying to play catch up and trying to build chip manufacturing here in the United States," he concluded. 

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