(October 24, 2021)
China accounts for 60% of the world’s production of rare earths according to the U.S. Geological Survey. The top export destinations are Japan (49% by value) followed by the U.S. (15%), according to Chinese media.
For the Xi leadership, rare earths can also be used as a diplomatic trump card. When China protested Japan’s nationalization of the Senkaku Islands in 2010, Beijing stalled exports of rare earths as a means to pressure the Japanese side. The new move to restructure the rare-earth industry, therefore, may affect rare-earth supply to Japan and the U.S., analysts warn.