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Commentary: China’s stranglehold on rare earths gives it leverage over other countries


Australia, for instance, is comparatively insulated from rare earth coercion, holding the sixth-largest reserves of rare earths on the earth, a lot of which is untapped.

That doesn’t imply that Australia’s army can’t be affected by poor high quality Chinese steel or its reliance on other Beijing assets, such because the 2021 scarcity of urea, one other type of spice and an ingredient within the fluid wanted by diesel vehicles and agricultural machines.

China additionally has a historical past of artistic types of coercion, resembling slicing tourism to sure countries, weaponising commerce tariffs, and even halting trash processing.

Attempts to diversify provide chains have run into additional obstacles. Africa represents a chance for the availability of rare earth metals, however Beijing has already multiplied mining funding by Chinese entities on the continent 25 instances within the interval 2005 to 2015.

Much of this entry to assets is tied to funding in infrastructure, which in flip hyperlinks up with China’s formidable Belt and Road Initiative.

As the world strikes in direction of producing sources of renewable vitality and combatting local weather change, Beijing is one step forward.

In the Democratic Republic of Congo, China has gained entry to the most important untapped reserves of the important thing steel cobalt, an integral part in electrical automobile batteries.



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