The conjecture that China might use its dominance in the unusual earth minerals as a weapon during the trade battle intensified following a Chinese official cautioned that products manufactured from the materials should not be utilized against China’s development. The remarks—as reported by CCTV—were taken as a masked threat targeted at the U.S. and its technology firms that are reliant on the materials. In the past week, Xi Jinping—Chinese President—visited rare earth processing and mining facilities, adding to the assumption that China can make the minerals unavailable or more expensive if the trade war persists to expand.
During an interview, the Chinese official said, “You suggested that unusual earth minerals can become one of China’s counterattacks against the US’ unjustified suppression, what I say is that if anyone were to utilize products that are produced with the rare earth minerals that we export to curtail the progress of China, then the people of south Jiangxi province—where unique earth elements are mined—plus all the rest of the Chinese people will be unhappy.” The official was described as an “important executive” from the NDRC (National Development and Reform Commission). The rare earth imports are a relatively small portion of the $420 Billion US goods discrepancy with China, but their value far outstrips their dollar cost. The materials are important in the production of electric vehicles, iPhones, and advanced precision weapons.
On a similar note, recently, shares of unusual earth miners skyrocketed after Beijing threatened to cut off the minerals toward Washington. Shares of JL Mag Rare-Earth in China climb by 10%, while Innuovo Technology surge by 9.95%. In Australia, Lynas—which is one of the few unique earth miners outside of China—reported its shares surging by more than 10%.