China is signalling that it may use rare earths exports as leverage in the trade war with the U.S., as tensions between the two powers escalate. Rare earths, a group of 17 metals with a variety of high-tech applications, used in magnets, instrument displays and other strategic applications, are the one raw material where China dominates global supply. Chinese mines account for around 70% of global output. Around 80% of the rare earths imported by the U.S. comes from China, according to US government data.
The official newspaper of the ruling Communist Party, People's Daily, said in an editorial Wednesday that the U.S. is a major buyer of China's rare earth materials and is "highly dependent" on such resources. Columns from the official Xinhua News Agency and the Global Times newspaper also pointed to China's rich supply of rare earths. Last year, the US Geological Survey designated these minerals critical to the economy and national defence.