[LINK] China Blocks Vital Exports to Japan - or not?

Kim Holburn kim at holburn.net
Fri Sep 24 13:26:43 EST 2010


> Amid Tension, China Blocks Vital Exports to Japan By KEITH BRADSHER  
> Published: September 22, 2010
> HONG KONG — Sharply raising the stakes in a dispute over Japan's  
> detention of a Chinese fishing trawler captain, the Chinese  
> government has blocked exports to Japan of a crucial category of  
> minerals used in products like hybrid cars, wind turbines and guided  
> missiles.
> Isaac Brekken for The New York Times
> An engine of a Toyota Prius. Each Prius uses at least two pounds of  
> rare earth elements in its various parts.
> Chinese customs officials are halting shipments to Japan of so- 
> called rare earth elements, preventing them from being loading  
> aboard ships at Chinese ports, industry officials said on Thursday.
> On Tuesday, Prime Minister Wen Jiabao personally called for Japan's  
> release of the captain, who was detained after his vessel collided  
> with two Japanese coast guard vessels about 40 minutes apart as he  
> tried to fish in waters controlled by Japan but long claimed by  
> China. Mr. Wen threatened unspecified further actions if Japan did  
> not comply.

> China mines 93 percent of the world's rare earth minerals, and more  
> than 99 percent of the world's supply of some of the most prized  
> rare earths, which sell for several hundred dollars a pound.


> "By stopping the shipments, they're disrupting commercial contracts,  
> which is regrettable and will only emphasize the need for geographic  
> diversity of supply," he said. He added that in addition to telling  
> companies to halt exports, the Chinese government had also  
> instructed customs officials to stop any exports of rare earth  
> minerals to Japan.
> Industry officials said that mainland China's customs agency had  
> notified companies that they were not allowed to ship to Japan any  
> rare earth oxides, rare earth salts or pure rare earth metals,  
> although these shipments are still allowed to go to Hong Kong,  
> Singapore and other destinations. But no ban has been imposed on the  
> export to Japan of semi-processed alloys that combine rare earths  
> with other materials, the officials said. China has been trying to  
> expand its alloy industry so as to create higher-paying jobs in  
> mining areas, instead of exporting raw materials for initial  
> processing.
> Japan has been the main buyer of Chinese rare earths for many years,  
> using them for a wide range of industrial purposes, like making  
> glass for solar panels. They are also used in small steering control  
> motors in conventional gasoline-powered cars as well as in motors  
> that help propel hybrid cars like the Toyota Prius.

> China denies blocking metal exports to Japan

> China has denied is has blocked all exports of rare earth metals to  
> Japan, stepping up the pressure on Tokyo to release a Chinese boat  
> captain detained in disputed waters, a report said on Thursday.

> Reports said China has halted all shipments to Japan of the group of  
> metals, essential for the making of iPods, electric cars such as the  
> Toyota Prius, missiles, wind turbines and a range of other products,  
> the New York Times reported, citing unnamed industry sources.
> But China swiftly moved to damped down the claims.
> Japan and China are embroiled in their worst diplomatic row in  
> years, sparked by the captain's arrest following the September 7  
> collision of his trawler with two Japanese coastguard vessels in the  
> East China Sea.
> Although other sources are being investigated, China supplies at  
> least 95 per cent of the world's rare earths, as this map shows.  It  
> had previously cut its export limit for the minerals, sending market  
> prices soaring and sparking concerns among foreign governments and  
> companies.
> Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao this week threatened "further actions" if  
> the captain was not released. Beijing has already suspended high- 
> level contacts with Tokyo and called off several official visits.
> The issue of cutting the export of the metals in question has long  
> worried both Japan and Korea. China says it needs the metals for its  
> industry - and as it has long invested in the harvesting of the  
> metals, it should reap the rewards, or so the logic goes.
> Last month, before the row erupted, Japan had urged China to expand,  
> not restrict, its exports of rare earths

Kim Holburn
IT Network & Security Consultant
T: +61 2 61402408  M: +61 404072753
mailto:kim at holburn.net  aim://kimholburn
skype://kholburn - PGP Public Key on request

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