China’s rare earth supplies disrupted by Myanmar tumult – by Dominic OO (Asia Times – March 22, 2021)


YANGON – Fears are growing of a global shortage of rare earth minerals used in the manufacture of high-tech devices as unrest in Myanmar following the February 1 coup disrupts exports to China.

Chinese companies started complaining about delays in shipments of the minerals since mid-March, reportedly due to the deteriorating political and economic situation, which Chinese media reports say have had an impact on logistics.

Rare earth metals are used in aerospace, advanced military equipment, mobile phones and electric vehicles, among other tech products. Myanmar is a major supplier of rare earth ores, which are exported to China for extraction and processing, and then either used in local production or shipped on to global markets.

Hiccups in Myanmar’s supply of rare earths are the latest indicator that the audacious military coup, launched by Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, and subsequent national chaos is starting to seriously disrupt Myanmar’s economy and businesses.

The impact on rare earth shipments is the latest sign the coup is adversely impacting China, which earlier expressed concern about the security of its twin oil and gas pipelines that run through Myanmar into southern China and other commercial interests amid a public backlash against Beijing for its perceived support of the country’s ruling generals.

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