By: Franklin D. Kramer

What is the kernel of the issue?

During the COVID-19 pandemic, critical supply chains in the United States for personal protective equipment and other medical supplies were to a large degree reliant on Chinese suppliers. Similar reliance extends well beyond the medical sector to materials and components needed for critical infrastructures. Rare earth minerals, specialized metals, permanent magnets, and other components are, to a large extent, dominated by Chinese suppliers. 

Why is the issue important?

Such heavy reliance leaves the United States and its allies vulnerable to supply shocks—both natural and intentional—and makes the United States less resilient in the event of a crisis. As the Biden administration moves to improve and modernize the United States’ infrastructure including communications networks and energy grid, the potential impact of these vulnerabilities will be magnified.  

What is the recommendation?

The Biden administration should require important supply chains for critical infrastructures including telecommunications, healthcare, transportation, and other sectors to have at minimum one significant non-Chinese supplier for critical materials and components. This “China+1” policy would help prevent vital supply chains from becoming vulnerable to Chinese supply shocks and improve the resilience of critical infrastructures in the United States.  

Related Experts: Franklin D. Kramer