China has the power to stop every technological and electrical industry in the world and plunge the planet into the dark ages any time it wants, an expert has warned.
Even more worryingly, escalating tensions between China and the West makes it look very likely that this will happen sooner rather than later.
Dr Jeffrey Wilson, research director at the Perth USAsia Centre, said that China owns around 80 per cent of the world’s supply of critical minerals – which is a “powerful weapon”.
“Critical minerals are weird rocks basically – you’ve got them in your phone, in the (TV) antenna, in your computers. They’re used in tiny quantities,” he told news.com.au.
“China has worked out they have a weapon. This is a potentially weaponisable asset, the same way Saudi (Arabia) has petrol.”
Even though a smart phone only uses 50 micrograms of critical minerals, it wouldn’t be able to function without them.
It’s not just smart phones but laptops, batteries, military equipment including missile radars and fighter jet navigation, medical diagnostics, wind turbines, solar panels and electric vehicles, to name a few, are all dependent on critical minerals.
China could “bring the world to its knees” if it decided to cut off access, according to Dr Wilson.
The planet would be plunged into something similar to a dystopian novel if China decided to stop producing critical minerals.
“It would be an economic disaster. The price of cars would go up 20 fold,” Dr Wilson said.
“You may not be able to get them at all (laptops or phones). Could you imagine?
“Prices would rise dramatically.
“The supply of electronics would be greatly constrained, everything from phones to TVs to medical diagnostic equipment, military equipment, it’s everywhere.
“It would give China a way to stop the world’s automotive industry.”
China has been embroiled in a trade war with Australia for the last 18 months, after Prime Minister Scott Morrison angered the communist nation by calling for an investigation into the origins of the coronavirus.
Iron ore, barley and even lobsters have fallen foul of the Asian superpower in its bid to undermine Australia’s economy through cutting off trade.
However, Dr Wilson warned that nothing compared to the havoc China could wreak from stopping critical minerals reaching our shores.
“It puts all of Australia’s trade issues in perspective. They would pale in comparison to this,” he said.