Once dismissed as a “nuclear option” that would only be invoked by Beijing as a last resort in the burgeoning trade war with the US, it’s looking increasingly likely that the Communist Party might impose an export ban on rare-earth metals, creating serious supply-chain issues for American producers of everything from microchips, to batteries, to night-vision goggles.
After Global Times editor and Trump Twitter foil Hu Xijin warned on Tuesday that a ban was being ‘seriously considered’ (which followed a visit by President Xi and Vice Premier Liu He to a rare-earth mine that was widely seen as a threatening gesture), China’s powerful state-planning body threatened to use rare earths as “China’s counter-weapon against the US’s unwarranted suppression”…while a host of state-controlled media organizations used rare threatening language intended to convey that Beijing isn’t playing around.
As BBG explained, an editorial published in the People’s Daily on Wednesday used the phrase “don’t say I didn’t warn you”, which is loaded with historical significance. That specific wording was used by the paper in the early 1960s before China fought a brief war with India; it was also used before conflict broke out between China and Vietnam.
The newspaper’s commentary included a rare Chinese phrase that means “don’t say I didn’t warn you.”The specific wording was used by the paper in 1962 before China went to war with India, and “those familiar with Chinese diplomatic language know the weight of this phrase,” the Global Times, a newspaper affiliated with the Communist Party, said in an article last April. It was also used before conflict broke out between China and Vietnam in 1979.
On rare earths specifically, the People’s Daily said it isn’t hard to answer the question whether China will use the elements as retaliation in the trade war.
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