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Top planner warns of misusing rare earths

Xin Zhiming/Zhou Lanxu
Updated: May 29,2019 9:00 AM     China Daily

The National Development and Reform Commission, China’s top economic planner, said on May 28 that the country is willing to continue supplying rare-earth metals to world markets but is opposed to those who use products made with such rare earths to “suppress and dampen China’s development.”

It also said that the industries of China and the United States are highly complementary. Cooperation will benefit both countries while confrontation will only undermine their interests, it said.

The NDRC said in the recent media interview that China will adhere to the principle of fair and free trade in its management of rare-earth exports, but “the Chinese people will be unhappy” if the country’s exported rare-earth metals are used against China.

Since the start of the China-US trade friction more than a year ago, Washington has taken many measures, including taking advantage of its edge in high-end chip making, to stymie Chinese high-tech firms, the NDRC said.

The NDRC added that in its latest move to dampen China’s industrial development, the US government has used an executive order to effectively ban products of Chinese tech giant Huawei from being used in the US, which has been widely seen as unreasonable and unfair.

Having been increasingly used in high-tech industries, rare-earth metals are critical in making products from advanced weaponry to chips and hybrid cars.

China is the world’s largest producer of rare earths, accounting for about 80 percent of global supply.

However, the country’s rare-earth industry is faced with such problems as rapidly decreasing inventory, inefficient production and environmental pollution.

Analysts also said that the low prices of China’s exports have failed to reflect the real value of the precious resource.

The division of labor of the global rare-earth industry should be coordinated in accordance with the principle of opening-up and sharing, the NDRC said. While the country prioritizes the domestic use of rare-earth metals, it is willing to see its exports help drive the development of global industries, it said.

President Xi Jinping visited the JL MAG Rare-Earth Co on May 20 in Ganzhou, Jiangxi province, during a three-day inspection tour. Xi learned about the rare-earth industry’s development in Ganzhou, a major producer of rare-earth resources and products in China.

During the seven trading days from May 20 to May 28, the A-share listed company hit the 10-percent daily upside limit six times, with its share price rising by 90 percent after closing on May 28.