I think this malfeasance started in earnest back in the Clinton administration:
The rare earths dependency on China stems in part from the fact that extracting rare earth minerals is an extremely polluting process that China has been willing to undertake, while most other countries have not, including the US, which ironically prides itself on having extremely strict environmental regulations in place.
The US, according to Reuters, has only one rare earths mine and no capability to process rare earth minerals. If China were to stop exporting them to the US, the country would fast run out of the basic building blocks required to produce the military hardware that the US needs, not to mention all the other items where rare earth minerals are needed.
And the article supplies a little extra perspective on China’s Belt And Road initiative.
Read it and weep. (Or go to the range.)