back to article China is trolling rare-earth miners online and the Pentagon isn't happy

The US Department of Defense said it's investigating Chinese disinformation campaigns against rare earth mining and processing companies — including one targeting Lynas Rare Earths, which has a $30 million contract with the Pentagon to build a plant in Texas. Earlier today, Mandiant published research that analyzed a Beijing- …

  1. RedRichie

    " This campaign spread content claiming Lynas' planned processing facility in Texas would harm the environment and expose neighbors to radioactive contamination, cancer risks, gene mutation, and deformities in newborns."

    Ahh! Just like the Covid vaccine then!

    God help us if I need to add /s.

    1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Presumably they know this because the Chinese mines do these things. I wonder if they have informed the local population in China of this?

  2. VoiceOfTruth

    The Pentagon

    The paragon of virtue. How's them nuclear weapons in Iraq coming along?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The Pentagon

      That wasn't the Pentagon. That was the politicians in the Bush White House. Not the same thing.

      1. VoiceOfTruth

        Re: The Pentagon

        It is exactly the same thing.

        1. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

          Re: The Pentagon

          Bush's appointees stood up in front of cameras and openly told whopping lies.

          If Winnie the Pooh wants to tell whopping lies he has the ability to hold a press conference. He does not need to hide behind thousands of fake social media accounts.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: The Pentagon

          The PLA & the Chinese "Prez" are the same thing. The Pentagon & the US President are not the same thing. The folks in the US Military swear an oath to the Constitution, not an oath of fealty to any politicians. Trump & his sycophants never understood that.

      2. jmch Silver badge

        Re: The Pentagon

        The politicians in the Bush White house wanted some intelligence made up. They sure as hell got some from the UK and Bliar. I'm not sure if they got any from the Pentagon (but I'm pretty sure the Pentagon is willing to lie if it suits it's strategic interests).

        1. AlgernonFlowers4

          Re: The Pentagon

          It was all set out in a documentary film called In the Loop and the Pentagon laid the blame on some guy called Malcolm Tucker.

          Malcolm Tucker: Yeah. Now do excuse me, I've got work to do. [pause] Don't ever call me fucking English again.

    2. ShadowSystems Silver badge

      Re: The Pentagon

      I think you should change your name to something more appropriate like "Voice Of Troll". Given the number of downvotes you've collected recently, it's a wonder they haven't banned your butt yet. Just sayin'...

      1. VoiceOfTruth

        Re: The Pentagon

        Hmm. I suggest you go and look up some real figures. e.g. in this article: https://forums.theregister.com/forum/all/2022/06/24/big_tech_post_roe_wade/, I made a comment that received 13 down votes. It also received 70 up votes.

        I guess if you cannot attack the comment you have to resort to ad hominem. What is to say that quite a few of the down votes are not from down vote farms? I'm aware that some people are upset by my comments. Sometimes the truth hurts. If you only want to hear or read comments that please you, let me suggest a web site to you: http://localhost.

        1. ShadowSystems Silver badge

          Re: The Pentagon

          The recent story about 7Zip includes several posts by you where you were DownVoted 30, 80, or over 130 times. I normally don't see vote counts like that on anything not in a BOFH, Something For The Weekend, or Who Me? comment thread.

          I try not to feed the trolls or argue with the pigs, it just keeps the trolls going & amuses the pigs. Please keep posting as is your priveledge, I'm just pointing out that I thought your choice of pseudonym was better served with a slight tweaking to be more, you know, truthful. =-J

          1. VoiceOfTruth

            Re: The Pentagon

            -> I normally don't see vote counts like that

            Exactly my point about down vote farms.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: The Pentagon

              Don't kid yourself.

        2. TeeCee Gold badge
          Facepalm

          Re: The Pentagon

          Ok, so you actually managed to come up with something where the ups outweighed the downs. Yay! Good for you.

          Now, about everything else you've posted.

          HINT: "Real figures" means using all of them, not cherry picking the ones you like. Are you a White House analyst in disguise?

      2. JamesTGrant

        Re: The Pentagon

        I thought; ‘disinformation and China in the same article - VoT’s keyword alert will be triggered!! Stand by for VoT’s supervisor to post something banal and probably full of tangential whataboutisms’ Did not disappoint.

      3. Potemkine! Silver badge

        Re: The Pentagon

        Good idea!

        New functionality required: automatically adding "DNFTT" to all of his/her posts.

  3. Number6

    There are certain states where such claims might have gained traction, but the ones that have oil and mined minerals as their main resources probably not so much. California would probably have been protesting, but not Texas.

  4. Mark Exclamation

    "We never interfere in the internal affairs of sovereign countries, we are a peaceful nation and will never attack anyone, and we will never militarise the South China Sea Islands we built."

    Everything that comes "officially" from China is just bullshit.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "We never interfere in the internal affairs of sovereign countries (unless they have some resources we want and their government won't cave in to our demands), we are a peaceful nation and will never attack anyone (unless we are asked to in the name of democracy/WMDs)".

      Ok, I admit you got me there at Spratly Islands

    2. VoiceOfTruth

      Iraq, Grenada, Vietnam, Iran, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Whatabout, whatabout, whatabout, whatabout, whatabout, whatabout, whatabout...

        The lowest form of trollery roubles can buy.

    3. veti Silver badge

      Please link to a press release or speech by a senior Chinese government official, within this century, making at least one of those statements you just attributed to them.

  5. DS999 Silver badge

    What a weird influence campaign

    No one is getting super rich by mining rare earths, since they aren't really particularly rare. Sure, the more the mining is concentrated in China the more (temporary) influence they'd be able to exert on supplies, but there would be a lot of better ways to gain leverage over western economies. Plus the more mining that happens in China the more of the pollution resulting from it that happens in China.

    You'd think it would be a much better bang for the "economic warfare" buck to try to sabotage efforts to build new fabs in the US, or infrastructure in general...

    1. JamesTGrant

      Re: What a weird influence campaign

      Suspect it’s about trying to keep your customers remaining dependent. Which, if those customers are nationally significant, is a deterrent to doing anything other than sabre rattling. Also, it’s very cheap to do - where is that XKCD…

    2. Paul Crawford Silver badge

      Re: What a weird influence campaign

      Depends on who is paying them. It might be a Chinese gov plan to do this, or it might be the Chinese mining companies. Yes, that is a subtle difference in ownership...

      1. Zolko Silver badge

        Re: What a weird influence campaign

        Or it might be real environmental activists ? Or a CIA campaign to smear China's reputation ? Wouldn't be unheard-of. Thinking of it ... yes, this very much stinks of a CIA campaign, it ticks all of their check-boxes : remember Cambridge Analytics, Julian Assange ... only Snowden got away, funny that, isn't it

        1. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge

          Re: What a weird influence campaign

          Come on, this is far more like a case where the simplest answer is most likely correct: China wants to keep western, if not the whole world's, manufacturers hooked on their product. The simple possibility of restricting access to vital elements gives China leverage over other nations and companies. Don't even need to make actual threats.

          Can't have another pusher o China's patch. China would lose its leverage, and Pooh Bear is all about global leverage.

          1. Zolko Silver badge

            Re: What a weird influence campaign

            the simplest answer is most likely correct

            Ah ... environmental activists complaining about a dirty mining process then ?

            The US Department of Defense said ...

            = Pentagone. And the simplest explanation is ?

    3. Strahd Ivarius Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: What a weird influence campaign

      Anyway, what will they do with these rare earths?

      Nobody will be building fabs plants in the USA, according to Intel...

    4. veti Silver badge

      Re: What a weird influence campaign

      Physical sabotage would be far worse "bang for the buck". One, it'd be a lot more bucks - a simple cyber-trolling operation is dirt cheap, especially when compared with an alternative that requires someone to commit actual crimes and risk jail time. And two, it would be a momentary setback, which at most would increase costs a bit or maybe delay operations for a few months.

      By doing it this way, it's not only cheap, it also has a decent chance to create a permanent grassroots opposition movement that will obstruct development for years to come.

  6. all ears

    Seems like the US could do a similar campaign, such as "Chinese rare earths are contaminated with poisons due to poor environmental controls, US rare earths are clean and well-regulated."

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Use recycled rare earth instead

    Surely this is a good case for better recycling of old electronic gadgets? It's got to be easier to get the materials out of old junk than out of rock?

    1. MrDamage Silver badge

      Re: Use recycled rare earth instead

      "ere ya go Gov, lovely dirt, slightly used, letting it go fer a steal."

  8. HammerOn1024

    Like all things China

    It's time to take a page from their book then and WRECK them.

    Stop playing by the "rules" people: Scorched earth!

  9. StudeJeff

    I expect with some deep digging a real reporter would find money from China, Russia, and even the Saudi's going into the coffers of American environment groups and supporting some politicians.

    Those groups and politicians make it a lot more expensive and difficult to accomplish a lot of things or to even kill them off entirely (See the Keystone XL pipeline)

    1. veti Silver badge

      Quite possibly, but it wouldn't make a bit of difference. Lots of people would say some version of "that's all very interesting, but you haven't actually answered the points raised, have you?"

      After all, it worked for Trump. He took both money and support from the Russians, plenty of people pointed it out, and he just shrugged and said "so what?"

  10. honordy

    The labor cost and environmental cost of rare earth mining in western countries are much higher than those in developing countries. The mining products cannot be competitive in the market at all, and can only be paid by the government, which will further increase the burden on the high fiscal deficit of the United States.

  11. kins

    The global industrial chain is closely linked. China does not dominate or monopolize the rare earth market, but the United States is determined to cut off or exclude a certain link of the chain. This will not work.

  12. kinsyu

    There is currently only one rare earth mine in operation in the United States, and several others are a decade away from production, and the mined rare earths are sent to China for processing. Even with dramatic changes to the rare earth supply chain, the U.S. is at least a decade away from becoming self-sufficient.

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