China’s Rare Earth Embargo, a New Calculus (2010 New York Times)

The excerpt below is drawn from a 2010 New York Times story. For the full story, please select the link below. As one reads this story, it is not difficult to imagine how a trade war could become far more draconian with severe implications on the global rare earth elements supply-chain.

Mike Luther, Global REEs Venture

BAOTOU, China — When Japanese mineral traders learned in late September that China was blocking shipments of a vital commodity, the word came not from a government announcement but from dock workers in Shanghai.

And on Thursday, the traders began hearing that the unannounced embargo of so-called rare earth minerals was ending — again, not from any Chinese government communiqué, but though back-channel word from their distributors.

Throughout the five weeks of the embargo, even when China expanded the rare earth shipping halt to include the United States and Europe, Beijing denied there was a ban.

Whatever it was called, a shipping suspension that started amid China’s diplomatic dispute with Japan over a wayward fishing trawler escalated into a broader international trade issue.

The episode alarmed companies around the world that depend on rare earths, minerals that help make a wide range of high-tech products, including smartphones and smart bombs. China currently controls almost all of the world’s supply of rare earths, for which demand is soaring.

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