While the U.S. continues to project power via military might, China has evolved warfare on purely economic terms. To understand this, consider the example below that compares the costs and benefits of each strategy in simplest of terms.
A Rare Earth Monopoly v. A Single Aircraft Carrier:
USA: A single new aircraft carrier cost $10 billion (Note: batteries not included a new aircraft carrier requires 90 aircraft and 5000 sailors) and is just one single component of projected power.
The U.S. recently spent over 10 years and at least $2 trillion dollars in pointless, unwinnable wars trying to gain control over oil, a $2 trillion market. The U.S. has nothing to show for this and has pushed regional allegiances towards China, Russia and Iran.
This project power strategy has resulted in:
The U.S. fighting in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Pakistan, etc, etc,.
The U.S. accumulation of debt and loss of prestige
The U.S. brings home Body bags
China: The Chinese government subsidizes the rare earth industry as some unknown cost, but all economic indicators and measures suggest that it is a net positive investment.
China began subsidizing the rare earth industry in the mid1980s. By gaining control over a $3 billion market China has gained control over $4.6 trillion in value added manufacturing and its related IP (worth considerably more). Reports by the GAO and other U.S. investigative bodies confirm that China can halt or even terminate the procurement of multiple U.S. weapons systems that are dependent on value added rare earth materials and components.
This economic power strategy has resulted in:
Chinas access and control over most U.S. markets, e.g., Wal-Mart and, Best Buy
Chinas massive accumulation of U.S. debt.
China brings home profits, IP, technology industries and jobs
This is a war of economic. The U.S. is chasing the past (oil, a 100 year old energy resource), while China develops the next generation of safe nuclear energy (Thorium MSR technology a proven U.S. technology). The U.S. is actually assisting China in developing this technology at the taxpayers expense.