China Bans Export of Rare Earths Tech

China Bans Export of Rare Earths Tech
Photo: Kevin Frayer/Getty Images News [via Getty Images]

The Facts

  • On Thursday, China introduced a ban on the export of key technologies used to process rare earth elements — a group of 17 metals that are used to manufacture the magnets that are found in many high-technology devices.

  • The ban — which Beijing said is an effort to protect national security — is the latest action China has taken against the export of various metals, with restrictions on gallium and germanium introduced this summer. It also implemented export permits on several graphite products earlier this month.

The Spin

Anti-China narrative

China is flexing its rare-earths muscle. The country has rarely shied away from leveraging its strengths toward its foreign policy or geostrategic goals. The communist nation dreams of dominating the global technosphere and It is now weaponizing rare earths to materialize that dream.

Pro-China narrative

There's no doubt that the rare-earths industry is an extremely polluting one. Over the years, China has borne the burden of meeting the world's demand for these important minerals — something the developed world is used to as it enjoys the fruits of the less developed world's dirty work. Rather than accusing Beijing of weaponizing rare earths, the West should acknowledge that this is its own making.

Nerd narrative

There's a 50% chance that China will have at least a 48.8% share of global rare earth production in 2030, according to the Metaculus forecasting community.

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