The Coalition for American Electronics Recycling (CAER) today praised the recent report by the China Task Force in the U.S. House of Representatives, particularly for its focus on supply chain issues impacting national security. As part of a comprehensive solution, CAER called for swift passage of the Secure E-Waste Export and Recycling Act (SEERA) that will combat China’s illicit trade in counterfeit electronics that undermine the reliability of U.S. military equipment.
The Task Force found that current U.S – China trade policies represent a “significant and growing risk to the supply of materials and technologies deemed critical to U.S. national security.” The report offers a series of recommendations, including development of a national security strategy for the defense industrial base to close gaps and vulnerabilities.
Counterfeit microchips from China represent an important national security issue that must be addressed. Counterfeiters based in China use e-waste — much of it exported from the United States – as feedstock to create reprocessed microchips, often with forged branding, that are then sold as new. These fake parts are unreliable and threaten the performance of sensitive military equipment including missile systems, jet guidance systems and other mission-critical technologies.
The problem persists despite efforts to slow the counterfeit trade, according to experts. In May 2019, a U.S.-based electronics distributor pleaded guilty to selling counterfeit electronics from China to a defense subcontractor and was sentenced to nearly four years in prison. As a result of the scheme, counterfeit microchips ended up in a classified weapons system and additional parts were sold for use in the B-1 Lancer bomber, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.