China wants to take its quota for rare-earth metal production to a record high this year by 20 percent. In recent years, countries such as the United States have been concerned about the threat of communist regimes taking advantage of their dominance in these essentials.
According to Reuters, citing a recent notification from China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology and Natural Resources, the country plans to produce 168,000 tonnes of rare earths in 2021, up from 140,000 tonnes last year.
According to the notification, the quota for smelting and separating operations, or processing rare earth elements into a form that manufacturers can use, is 162,000 tonnes, a 20 per cent increase over the year.
According to Japanese outlet Nikkei Asia, this is the fourth year in a row that quotas have increased, which have now reached a record high.
There are 17 elements on the rare earth periodic table in many industries including consumer electronics, green technology, medical equipment and defense. These important minerals are also important for the production of weapons guidance systems, jet engines, sonar devices and laser weapons.
The elements are plentiful and easy to mine; They are called “rare” because they are difficult to isolate and refine into a useful form.
In the 1980s, the United States was the world leader in the production of these elements.
Currently, China controls about 80 percent of the global rare earth supply, and has previously cut its exports as a retaliation against other countries.
At the height of the US-China trade war in 2019, there was speculation that Beijing would use exports of rare earths as a “counter-weapon” against the United States.
Earlier this year, Chinese regime officials reportedly explored whether curbing such exports to the United States could lead to a halt in production of the F-35 fighter jet.
Faced with the threat of losing access to these essential materials, the Biden administration was looking for ways to reduce the United States’ strong dependence on China.
In September 2010, tensions between Japan and China escalated after a Chinese fishing boat collided with two Japanese Coast Guard ships near uninhabited islands in the East China Sea, claimed by both countries.
Japanese authorities later took the boat into custody for investigation. The action enraged Beijing, which retaliated by banning exports of the rare-earth metal to Japan. About a month later, Beijing lifted the ban.
Rare earths are also an important issue as Beijing seeks to develop ties with Afghanistan, which is estimated to contain up to $3 trillion of rare earth elements.
Following the Taliban’s rapid takeover of Kabul in mid-August, the Communist Party of China welcomed the rise of the Taliban in the war-torn nation.
This News Originally From – The Epoch Times