China’s calculated grip on critical rare earth elements
Rare earths, a group of 17 metallic elements, are needed for over 200 products critical for defence and the clean energy transition, from wind turbines, to EVs, to American fighter jets.
While not actually scarce, these elements are highly polluting to produce – and China is willing to bear the consequences. In 1993, China produced 38% of rare earth elements. By 2010, this figure had risen to 97.7%. They continue to buy into new deposits and direct pricing to retain dominance over this sector.
Western nations must ramp up public-private collaboration and innovation to reduce their reliance on China without causing ecological devastation.