China Is a Paper Tiger on Rare Earth Minerals
The U.S. and China are seeking leverage over one another as the two nations negotiate their future trade relationship. Recently, as part of this posturing, Chinese president Xi Jinping suggested Beijing may use its position as the world’s leading supplier of rare earth minerals―metals that are critical for everything from mobile phones to fighter jets―as a means of pressuring Washington to ease or remove more than $300 billion in trade tariffs. Such a strategy, however, is unlikely to significantly constrain U.S. manufacturing or to apply decisive pressure to U.S. negotiators because these resources are actually abundant. China’s previous attempts to use them as bargaining chips have backfired and spurred greater supply- chain diversity and resilience.