China's dangerous monopoly on metals: controlling the supply of rare earth makes Beijing superior to the United States economically and militarily. "The Wall Street Journal of the United States commented on the 14th that the United States ignored China's"domination"and"monopoly"of rare earth and called on the United States and China to reach relevant provisions on rare earth trade and pricing. Regarding the above-mentioned views of US media, Lin Boqiang, Dean of China Energy Policy Research Institute of Xiamen University, retorts that China has a huge voice in the field of rare earth, but has not tried to control rare earth resources and their pricing, and that rare earth will not become a chip in China's political game.
Rare earth is a combination of 17 chemical elements. In modern industry, rare earth is an important material in the cutting-edge scientific and technological fields of new energy, aerospace, information and military industry. From mobile phones, computers to automobiles and missiles, it is impossible to produce rare earth without cerium, europium and neodymium. According to data released by the US Geological Survey (USGS), by 2018, China's rare earth resources reserves were 44 million tons, accounting for 36.7% of the world's total reserves, ranking first in the world. In 2018, China mined 120,000 tons of rare earth, accounting for 70.6% of the world's rare earth production in that year.
Written and published in the Wall Street Journal by Michael Silva, CEO of American Elements, an American metals manufacturer, "China has always regarded rare earth monopoly as a sword of economy and strategy". The article holds that China attracts enterprises from the United States, Japan and Europe to build factories in China through rare earth in order to obtain cheaper rare earth resources. "Just by withdrawing from the World Trade Organization, China can hinder the revival of American manufacturing industry and have an overwhelming advantage in all future trade disputes."
The arguments such as "rare earth is an important weight in Sino-US trade negotiations" and "China threatens other countries by using rare earth monopoly status" are not new in fact. The website of the monthly national defense magazine and the website of Capitol Hill newspaper of the United States have previously published articles saying that rare earth is the "secret weapon" in China's hands so far. Japan's Yomiuri Shimbun also claims that about 10 years ago, Japan was also affected by the decline in China's rare earth exports and soaring market prices.
"China is the world's largest exporter of rare earth, and has a great voice in the rare earth market, which is true," Lin Boqiang told the Global Times on the 15th, but China has no control over rare earth resources, which can be seen from the current price of rare earth in the international market. Lin Boqiang said that in recent years, the international rare earth industry has actually been in a state of oversupply, and the market price has been at a low level, which has been affected by some rare earth stealing and smuggling, but also reflects that China has not relied on the right of voice to raise the price of rare earth. Lin Boqiang said that the environmental cost of rare earth mining is very high, and the United States has stopped mining its own rare earth, choosing to import Chinese rare earth at a lower price. "For the sake of resource protection and environmental protection, China has been strengthening the supervision of rare earth mining," said Lin Boqiang, which may lead to a rise in the price of rare earth, but it is not a "political game consideration". (Reporter Zhao Juehun)