China defends rare earths position
The United States, Europe and Japan have joined forces to challenge China's restrictions on exports of rare-earth metals, escalating a trade row over access to some of the most important raw materials used in advanced technologies.
In response, China's Ministry of Commerce says it will properly deal with the dispute settlement request in accordance with World Trade Organization rules.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Weimin said: "We think the policy is in line with WTO rules. China hopes other countries can shoulder responsibilities for supplies and find alternative resources."
Liu added that, with 36.4% of the world’s rare earth reserves, China accounts for over 90% of the world’s production. In 2009, China decided to cap its exports, citing the need to reduce environmental damage and conserve scarce resources.
Liu Baocheng, director of Center for International Business Echics said: "I think now the environmental degradation and the infringement of human health became major concerns of China’s all mining industries, particularly in the rare earth. And this rampant jungle type of operation is no longer tolerable given the national strategy for sustainable development.
The rare earth dispute comes as U.S. President Barack Obama faces increasingly fierce competition, in the run-up to November’s presidential race.
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