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China threatens to cut off rare earth minerals supply to US

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BEIJING: In a latest move by China to counter US President’s proposed batch of new tariffs, Chinese rare earth elements suppliers warned of severing supplies to the US market, the consequences of which will be borne by US businesses and consumers alike.

Rare earth elements are critical for the high-tech industry in the manufacture of everything from mobile phones to modern fighter jets. China accounts for more than 80 percent of the United States’ rare earths supply.

The Association of China Rare Earth Industry (ACREI), comprising almost 300 miners, processors and manufacturers, held a special meeting on Wednesday. The association called Washington’s tariffs policy “trade bullying” aimed at suppressing China’s development. “We express our firm opposition” to it, it said, adding that Chinese rare earth companies should actively expand both foreign and domestic markets.

“The cost of tariffs imposed by the United States should be borne by the US market and consumers,” the statement read.

The rare earths association’s comments add to earlier hints by Beijing that it could impose restrictions on the exports of the materials.

Such a move could be painful for the US, which mostly relies on China for supply of the materials which are necessary for production of high-tech devices and for military use.

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