Truth About China and Rare Earths :
Rare earth is not earth, but a general term for 17 metal elements, here is the definition on wikipedia:
A rare-earth element (REE) or rare-earth metal (REM), as defined by IUPAC, is one of a set of seventeen chemical elements in the periodic table, specifically the fifteen lanthanides, as well as scandium and yttrium. Scandium and yttrium are considered rare-earth elements because they tend to occur in the same ore deposits as the lanthanides and exhibit similar chemical properties. Rarely, a broader definition that includes actinides may be used, since the actinides share some mineralogical, chemical, and physical (especially electron shell configuration) characteristics.
Rare earth is called the vitamin of modern industry
It is widely used in military technology, electronic information industry, petrochemical industry, glass ceramics, agricultural technology and other high-tech products closely related to people’s lives.
Without rare earths, many modern technology products, such as advanced fighters, warships, electric cars, chips, satellites, mobile phones, and drones(UAV), cannot be produced.
Rare earths are NOT rare
China, Russia, the United States, Australia, India and other countries are rich in rare earth minerals.Although rare earths are non-renewable resources, the proven reserves of rare earths are sufficient for human use for hundreds of years.
Rare earths are classified into light rare earths and heavy rare earths,
Light rare earths are common, but heavy rare earths are rare resources and are more important in the technology industry.
China has obvious advantage in heavy rare earth reserves, which is also an important support for the development of China’s rare earth industry.
China has 23% of the world’s rare earth reserves, Russia has 19%, and the United States has 13%. Other countries such as Australia and India also have abundant rare earth resources. Japan recently discovered a large number of rare earth mines in the deep sea, but it is in the deep sea, in the short term it is hard to mine.
China’s rare earth production accounts for 81% of the world And 80% of the US rare earth imports depend on China.
China has taken control of the entire rare earth industry chain， Especially rare earth separation.
Although outside China, other countries in the world are also producing rare earths, such as the United States and Australia,
China has this absolute technological advantage and cost advantage in key rare earth separation technologies.
The rare earth oxides produced in the United States also need to be shipped to China.
Separation is carried out to finally obtain a rare earth finished product.
Production of rare earths seriously damages the environment, and profits are not high. Western countries, especially the United States, are not willing to invest. Therefore, China has gradually mastered the rare earth industrial chain through huge sacrifices. This is a long-term process.China has paid a huge price for this.If the United States wants to rebuild the rare earth industry chain, it will take at least 15 years,and pay a huge environmental cost.
China has no intention of using rare earths to avenge the United States. China has deeply participated in the world division of labor system and found its own position. However, if the United States insists on using the dominant position in the international division of labor system to brutally suppress China’s development, China will have to fight back properly. The rare earth is only one of China’s options.