China May Be Reaching for Its Rare Earths Gun

MIN READMay 30, 2019 | 06:30 GMT

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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