China Goes On The Offensive In The Rare Earths Dispute

rare earth

Photo: Lynas Corp

China already lost one case at the WTO on raw materials export limitations, which it attempted to defend based on environmental concerns. The big question hanging out there since that decision was made concerned the application of that legal reasoning to similar limitations on rare earths. Huge issue for certain industries, such as the tech sector which relies heavily on certain rare earths for hardware manufacturing.China is in negotiations with the U.S. et al on this dispute, and normally we would expect either some sort of settlement or a formal case being filed.

But not yet. The news today is that China is getting out in front of this whole thing with the issuance of a White Paper on China’s domestic policy, press releases, and a slew of articles and Op/Eds in state media. If you read the paper today, it was easy to tell what Topic A was.

Will this sway opinion? Just who was the intended audience anyway? Does this mean that China expects the U.S. to file a case and is trying to take the sting out of that announcement? Given the raw materials decision, won’t China lose this case anyway?

Stay tuned. This should be interesting. In the meantime, here are some links:

AFP: China says rare earths practices meet WTO rules

Full Text: Situation and Policies of China’s Rare Earth Industry (text of the White Paper)

Xinhua: Stricter regulation on rare earth exploitation

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Post tags: rare earths, raw materials, world trade organisation

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