China May Be Reaching for Its Rare Earths Gun

May 30, 2019 | 06:30 GMT

Chinese President Xi Jinping's visit to a rare earth element production factory in Jiangxi province on May 20 raised speculation that Beijing may be considering taking action on exports of the materials.

Chinese President Xi Jinping learns about the production process and operation of the JL MAG Rare-Earth Co. Ltd., as well as the development of the rare earth industry, in the city of Ganzhou in eastern China's Jiangxi province on May 20, 2019.

(Xinhua/via Getty Images)

Chinese rhetoric surrounding its willingness to impose restrictions on rare earth exports has escalated. Two different state-controlled entities have strongly hinted that China is prepared to use its near-monopoly in the rare earths market to hit back against the United States in the ongoing trade dispute. The People’s Daily, a state-run publication, published a commentary entitled "United States, Don’t Underestimate China’s Ability to Strike Back." The strongly worded missive echoed previous warnings outlining how rare earths could be used as a "counter weapon" to respond to U.S. tariffs and ongoing demands in trade negotiations....

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