Public radio's Marketplace program has a report about what seems to be a Chinese government operation aimed at preventing American production of rare-earth elements:
Researchers at Mandiant said that a Chinese group impersonated Americans on social media in order to undermine U.S. production of rare-earth elements....
Earlier this month, a chorus of social media accounts that appeared to be based in Texas started warning that a rare-earth element refinery planned there by Australian mining firm Lynas Rare Earths would cause radiation poisoning, toxic waste and threats to livelihood.
"But these people weren't real," said John Hultquist, a vice president of Mandiant,. "These are hundreds of accounts, essentially part of an information operation."
Mandiant said the entity responsible is a pro-Chinese Communist Party group that's well-resourced and grew out of information campaigns targeting Hong Kong. Though the firm hasn't nailed down who's behind it, "the Chinese government is probably our primary suspect," Hultquist said.
...Rare-earth elements are crucial to electric vehicles, cellphones, missiles, supermagnets and other advanced technologies. China currently controls more than 80% of global production.
Lots of people want to fight global warming by hastening the transition to electric cars, which, with gasoline at $5 or $6 a gallon, start to look attractive even without considering environmental externalities. But when the electric car batteries are mostly made in China, a genocidal regime that is America's economic and geostrategic rival, and when it looks like China is using sneaky methods to prevent America from competing, it gives the issue a new look. I'm old enough to remember when electric cars were being sold as a way to reduce American dependence on Saudi oil that was fueling Islamist extremism. Swapping Saudi oil for Chinese-made batteries may have an environmental benefit but in national security terms is probably a wash.