The flagship newspaper of the Chinese Communist Party has highlighted China’s control of access to key rare earth minerals amidst escalating trade tensions with the United States.
An editorial piece published by the People’s Daily on 29 May entitled “the US Should Think of China’s Rare Earth Minerals Card” (社评：美方应当想到中国有稀土这张牌) highlights China’s control of these scarce resources.
“China is the world’s largest producer of rare earth minerals, accounting for over 80% of global production volume each year, and is the biggest source of rare earth mineral imports for the US and other major western nations.
“Rare earth minerals imported by the US from China account for around 80% of its total demand…we believe that if the US continually steps up pressure on China, it’s only a matter of time before China uses the weapon of rare earth minerals.
“While the US has rare earth mineral mines, the extraction and establishment of related and complete industry chains will require at least several years.
“The rare earth mineral products stored by the US are estimated to only be enough for several months’ usage…allies of the US such as Australia are also rare earth producers, but their production volumes and production range cannot compare to China’s.
“Once the US loses China’s rare earth minerals, it will definitely face a very difficult adjustment.
“China does not want to escalate the trade war, but the US has repeatedly adopted extreme actions, in particular using administrative interference to sever the supply relationship between US enterprises and Chinese companies such as Huawei without any appropriate reason.
“If under such circumstances China does not adopt retaliatory measures in response to such reckless behaviour, then this is obviously not in consonance with the fundamental logic of international relations.
“While the weapon of rare earth minerals is powerful, it will be only be a tool of defence for China, and not a flagship for military expeditions…it sends the signal that China will not submit to US pressure, and that we are not unarmed.”
“[China] hopes that the US maintains restraint and does not continue to recklessly raise the stakes, otherwise, it will see that China has far from finished playing its hand, and we are willing and determined to play to the end with the US.”