China eyes rare earth export curbs for US defense – FT – by Staff (Mining.com – February 16, 2021)

https://www.mining.com/

China is looking into curbing the exports of rare earth minerals that are crucial to US defense contractors such as Lockheed Martin for the manufacture of sophisticated weaponry and F-35 fighter jets, the Financial Times reported on Tuesday.

Industry executives said government officials had asked them how badly companies in the US and Europe would be affected if China restricted rare-earth exports during a bilateral dispute, FT reported.

China currently accounts for 70% of global production of rare earths, controlling 90% of the $4 billion global market.

“The government wants to know if the US may have trouble making F-35 fighter jets if China imposes an export ban,” the Financial Times reported, quoting a Chinese government adviser.

The specter of export curbs arose in 2019 amid a deepening trade war, when Beijing prepared a plan to restrict shipments as a way to target Washington.

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