China Blocks ‘Rare Earth Mineral’ Shipments Essential to U.S. Manufacturing
October 20, 2010
China (ChattahBox World News) – Thanks to Chinese supplies of rare earth minerals, American manufacturers are able to make high-tech products such as cell phones, wind turbines, and guided missiles – but all that might come to a screeching halt now that China has stopped supplying the material, the New York Times reports.
On the heels of news that China stopped sending the rare earth minerals to Japan just last month, now Chinese customs officials are holding shipments of the materials that were destined for the U.S. and Europe. China has not indicated that the hold on shipments constitute an embargo, and the Chinese commerce minister has said only that rare earth exports will decline by as much as 30 percent next year, with no announcement regarding shipments thereafter, the Times says.
The Chinese government took a similar stance after it halted rare earth shipments to Japan last month, denying that an embargo was in effect. However, analysts believe that China’s denial of the problem may be a way for the country to “wield an undeclared trade weapon without creating a policy trail that could make it easier for other countries to bring a case against China at the World Trade Organization,” the Times reports. Others question whether China’s refusal to export the required minerals would force Western countries to manufacture their high-tech items in China.