It’s been a busy year for metallurgists in the US.
In January, President Donald Trump signed a $1.6 trillion trade deal that includes a trade war between the US, China and Mexico.
On Wednesday, China imposed tariffs on US steel imports, which Trump has described as unfair.
In response, Trump ordered the Pentagon to stop funding its Metallurgical Coke Steel (MCSE) subsidiary, which provides the steel used in military weapons and aerospace components.
China has been pressing the US to use Chinese steel in its own military equipment, including nuclear weapons and submarines.
It’s also pushing the US for permission to export its steel to China.
US steel production is estimated to be about 2.8 million tonnes, down from more than 3.2 million tonnes in 2014, according to US Steel.
In 2016, China surpassed the US as the world’s largest producer of steel.
US officials have expressed concern that Chinese steel will be used in the construction of the Dakota Access pipeline, a $3.8 billion project that would carry crude oil from the Bakken oil fields to refineries on the Gulf Coast.
China is the world leader in manufacturing steel.
It has more than 40,000 metallists in China and a large number of other countries.
A report released in December by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) said that China would need an estimated 3.5 million tonnes of steel for its military, according a Reuters story.
In November, the Pentagon said it was suspending a $300 million program to help develop metallurists in its domestic manufacturing sector.
The US has made steel a priority in the global economy, but the Chinese government has not made the same commitment.
In February, China suspended its own export of steel to the US in response to Trump’s trade war.
A US official told Al Jazeera that the suspension was “unilateral”, adding that the move “does not have a bearing on the US-China bilateral relationship”.
The US State Department said in February that the US had “no intention of allowing China to export any US steel”.
A Chinese official said the suspension had nothing to do with US policy.
Al Jazeera’s Jennifer Peltzman reported from Beijing.