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China Now Halting Shipments of Rare Earth Minerals To US

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  • by russotto (537200) on Tuesday October 19, 2010 @10:46PM (#33956338) Journal

    From TFA, emphasis mine:

    The United Steelworkers, in a September petition to the Obama administration, argue that China is unfairly subsidizing exports to encourage companies in the country to send their clean energy products around the world. At the same time, the union accuses China of limiting the exports of certain rare-earth minerals necessary to produce solar panels so that foreign companies will settle in the country.

  • Easy solution (Score:2, Interesting)

    by modmans2ndcoming (929661) on Tuesday October 19, 2010 @10:54PM (#33956404)

    Close our markets to all of China's exports.

  • Re:Not again... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by the_humeister (922869) on Tuesday October 19, 2010 @10:58PM (#33956448)

    Really? I thought they were due to assassinations of archdukes and such.

  • by ncgnu08 (1307339) on Tuesday October 19, 2010 @11:17PM (#33956590)

    This really causes me to question our Afghanistan policy even more. We, the US Geo Survey(?), found these mass deposits of rare earth metals/minerals and, at last read I believe, the Chinese are getting the rights to actually mine and produce the metals/minerals (cit: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/14/world/asia/14minerals.html?_r=1&pagewanted=all [nytimes.com] ) and (for those that like more of a "story" with your "news" cit: http://www.foxnews.com/world/2010/06/14/discovers-t-minerals-afghanistan/ [foxnews.com] ).

    Am I way off here or should we not be keeping these rights? Not being a geologist, "IANAG", maybe these are completely different metals/minerals. If they are the same I believe we have every right to mine them ourselves. We have invested more than enough into Afghanistan to justify producing these reserves.

    However it now becomes very interesting with China. I think most Americans forget how close to China our military is in Afghanistan.

    Can anyone enlighten me if I am missing something since IANAG.

  • Re:a trade war? good (Score:5, Interesting)

    by cappp (1822388) on Tuesday October 19, 2010 @11:24PM (#33956632)
    I read an article [foreignpolicy.com] yesterday which dealt exactly with that point and the author noted

    Somehow these successes from America's last great trade war have been forgotten -- blotted out by patriotic sloganeering ("American industry pulled up its socks to meet the Japanese challenge)"

    . The writer pretty much argues that the last trade war wasn't really won at all,

    Most U.S. producers never recovered what they lost in the 1980s. In fact, the question of just who beat whom in the last great trade war has no easy answer. Consider this: Japanese GDP growth from 1990 to 2000 -- Japan's so-called lost decade -- was just 0.2 percent less than America's when you account for increases in the U.S. population. And Japan comes out ahead on a per capita basis. Even with the battering it took, Japan's productivity growth outpaced that of U.S. workers in the 1990s.

    and even that limited success was more a factor of specific global issues and not because of American industry. Give it a read, it makes an interesting argument.

  • Environmentalism (Score:4, Interesting)

    by peterindistantland (1487953) on Tuesday October 19, 2010 @11:31PM (#33956678)
    China's rare earth supply should be boycotted anyway, because of the massive pollution caused by their unregulated mining practice.
  • Re:Not again... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by the linux geek (799780) on Tuesday October 19, 2010 @11:33PM (#33956696)
    You're right, but I question whether it's worth it at this stage. I think a better solution right now would be to just cut off some of the trade benefits that make it so beneficial for Mainland China to continue their rapid-growth export-driven economic policies, which was a possible end state of this increased Congressional irritation about their currency manipulation.

    Right now, it's not worth causing heavy damage to our economy just to hurt them more.The US is perfectly capable of pissing the CPC off just by switching recognition to the ROC government, which wouldn't break our economy and would send a nice, strong political message.
  • Re:a trade war? good (Score:3, Interesting)

    by cappp (1822388) on Tuesday October 19, 2010 @11:40PM (#33956748)
    I think the idea of the piece was more that people mis-remember the Japanese problem and believe that it was solved through the ascention of American industry out-competing once challenged. The author points out that that's not what happened, that there were a lot of legislative and diplomatic stategies that were deployed to out-maneuver Japan on a world stage, and that even using this wide range of techniques the eventually victory itself is largely questionable.
  • by ad454 (325846) on Tuesday October 19, 2010 @11:45PM (#33956786)
    Considering that the US needs China to buy its public debt, more than China needs the US to buy its goods, there isn't much the US can do.

    Unless the US can get a collation of country blocks (like NAFTA, EU, OPEC, etc.), perhaps with a ruling by the WTO, to joint together in trade sanctions against China. Countries like Canada, Australia, and others that provide a lot of mineral and energy resources to China would have a lot more influence.

    Remember that China does not produce sufficient mineral and energy resources, not to mention food, for its economy and to feed its population.

    As a Canadian, I hope that our government demands guarantees that China not to restrict rare-earth shipments to Canada, or Canada will block all resource and food shipments to China.
  • Board game theory (Score:3, Interesting)

    by guyminuslife (1349809) on Tuesday October 19, 2010 @11:57PM (#33956856)

    Have you ever played Settlers of Catan? I remember this one game when one player in particular got a monopoly on sheep. Everyone else was diversifying their economy. This guy wanted to control the world's supply of sheep.

    Since you really do need sheep to do anything, long story short, he won the game.

  • With WWI... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by KingAlanI (1270538) on Wednesday October 20, 2010 @12:29AM (#33957062) Homepage Journal

    The assassination of Franz Ferdinand was the spark, but pressure had been building for awhile. High school teacher explained with the acronym MAIN:

    Militarism - Tools and the desire to use them. 'Beliefs' category.
    Alliances - Webs of alliance treaties would widen a small conflict into a larger one as other countries got behind their allies.
    Imperialism - this one about resources, but also beliefs ("white man's burden", et cetera)
    Nationalism - this one squarely 'beliefs'.

  • Re:Environmentalism (Score:2, Interesting)

    by GMThomas (1115405) on Wednesday October 20, 2010 @12:31AM (#33957066) Homepage
    Exactly. China's removal of rare earth elements from the Earth is causing IMMENSE, ungodly devastation to the surrounding landscape. Huge tracts of fertile, lush land have been turned to hazardous sludge. Hybrid cars use tons of these minerals and the result is unspeakable tragedy for the Earth. Fuck your computers, cars, phones... The price is too high. (I just pawned my desktop computer off this morning!)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 20, 2010 @12:55AM (#33957204)

    "The Capitalists will sell us the rope with which we will hang them." - V.I. Lenin

  • by x1n933k (966581) on Wednesday October 20, 2010 @01:04AM (#33957254) Homepage
    But this doesn't mean that the US will make the right moves and invest into itself, in fact I think they'll do the opposite. There's only so many times you can throw money out and expect Corporations to develop good busniess state-side(see automakers, see banks) As TFA points out, it would take the US quite a bit of time to catch up in terms of production and refinement, and we don't have any refineries, let alone good clean ones that would be required. Other Countries only make up 3% of of the current output, and it is still China who refines it. We have a problem in Canada where we allow other countries to dig out and own the resources and the only penny seen is in the blue collar work, which isn't much. If we developed and hired we'd have a lot more money floating around, instead our Oil money goes to Holland and our natural gas to the US. Canadian's loose on everything but the cheapest labour.

    Although the products China ships with these materials are not being stopped, so don't worry about your iPhone 4's or Acer netbooks not arriving. There are a few big companies who use these materials to build their own chips here in NA will suffer (Intel/IBM come to mind).

    [J]
  • Re:Woot for me (Score:4, Interesting)

    by MMatessa (673870) on Wednesday October 20, 2010 @01:06AM (#33957266)

    first models predicted peak oil between 1965 and 1970 http://www.hubbertpeak.com/hubbert/1956/1956.pdf [hubbertpeak.com]

    ...in the US. And that's when it peaked [wikipedia.org].

  • by tirefire (724526) on Wednesday October 20, 2010 @01:33AM (#33957422)
    I like to think that the parent was not referring to people who work for the gov't, but rather people who let employers direct most or all of their professional lives. A self-employed person is a rarity these days, and I think that's behind many/most U.S. problems (WARNING: RANT FOLLOWS)

    An example: Let's say you're a senior computer programmer at a Fortune 500 corp. You get interesting work, reasonable vacation time, your co-workers and boss are friendly, and the pay is great. The problem here is that you're still working for someone else's (the owner's, the board of directors', whatever) dream, not your own. That means someone else is profiting more from your work than you, that someone else is deciding what projects to begin and what projects to cancel, and that someone else is free to delegate whatever duties they don't find enjoyable. I think that the employee's role as a stone in a corporate pyramid is to be avoided, unless servile habits can somehow be considered virtuous. I've noticed a couple tendencies among employee friends of mine, tendencies that become more noticeable the more heavily said employee invests in his career. They're unhappy, and their personal lives are fixed in humdrum routine. They spend so much time ignoring their own instincts and goals in lieu of company orders that they become listless and unable to motivate themselves to do anything new or bold in their personal lives.

    Back in the 18th and early 19th centuries, most Americans had their own livelihoods, often organized as family businesses where each worker was involved or at least consulted in most every other aspect of the business. People generally did what they wanted and found a way to monetize it enough to get by. Massive, rigid corporate hierarchies only really emerged after the mid-19th century, when sweatshops and compulsory schooling started to indoctrinate everyone into obediently following the commands of the elite "experts".

    Nowhere is this more evident than the way most people participate in elections. They are astoundingly passive, focusing almost entirely on voting, the least important step in the electoral cycle. On average, they don't work for political campaigns, they don't participate in primaries, and they tend to vote for whatever football team ^W^W party they've always voted for (if they vote at all; voter turnout sucks). The really politically active ones usually don't do much more wait until the candidates are narrowed down before voting against someone. Every November, people brag about how they did their civic duty by voting, content to ignore the much larger difference they could have made earlier in the process. With a population as politically apathetic as ours, it's no wonder that those in power treat our wishes with such contempt. They are sure in their ivy-league belief that the electorate is composed of adult-age children who need to be closely managed as wards of the state ("liberals") and/or rallied to the cause of our fearless leader's foreign adventures ("conservatives").

    In short, a reluctance or outright refusal to think for onesself is the root cause of many of the U.S.'s failings. This problem could probably stop within a single generation if we got our children out of state schools and into countless work apprenticeships and charities with people of different social classes instead. Just think of the kind of well-rounded, genuinely worthwhile people such a liberal education would produce.
  • by arivanov (12034) on Wednesday October 20, 2010 @01:34AM (#33957430) Homepage

    Not to worry, Chinese will have EPA in a few years. Otherwise there will be nobody left healthy enough to work in their factories. We have all been through this.

  • Lithium? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by MikShapi (681808) on Wednesday October 20, 2010 @01:35AM (#33957442) Journal

    Let's connect the dots.....
    China wants to drive.
    They're adding more cars on the road a year than the US and Europe combined (~2-3mil/year national car parc growth)
    Chery, their biggest independent car maker, has signed a deal with Better Place. They're almost completely leapfrogging the Internal Combustion Engine altogether. Beijin's mayor deputy has visited Better Place in Israel multiple times.
    Right now, anyone who ignores what the hybrid-entrenched car companies (Read: Toyota, Chevrolet, Honda) are saying and has his ear to the ground knows one thing:
    Once an electric car stops being a greenie status symbol 10K$ more expensive than an ICE car, and starts being 10K$ cheaper than an ICE car (which is what the Better Place model does), Multi-Trillion-Dollar-Industry (Oil and Automotive combined) undergoes BIG disruption happens. All hell breaks loose.
    Priuses have moved in production from 10,000car/anum to 100,000car/anum.
    Renault, on the other hand, the boldest pure-EV company (and Better Place's biggest partner), just geared up for a 1,000,000car/anum production in Turkey. They know one thing: When Better Place starts running cross-subsidy ("Free iPhone on a 3-year-plan") on a car that's 10K$ car cheaper (batteries not included), subsidized by government to the tune of another 5K$-10K$, and is 5K$ cheaper than hybrid/ice because there is no ICE, and starts giving away cars for free... ... and this is not distant future. This is 60,000 presold vehicles in Israel today, and retail rollout in the upcoming 4 months....
    Then Renault doesn't have a demand problem like Toyota do. They have a supply problem. It becomes a question of how many cars you can hand out for free.

    All the big players - namely countries - know this. It's no secret, and Shai Agassi is all over YouTube like a rash. Everyone is watching Israel, Denmark and Australia very closely.
    This is why Japan, China, Europe and the US have dumped 4 BIL$ into car battery production, when nobody is actually producing anywhere near this many cars yet.

    By 2015-2016, there will be more electric cars sold than ICE ones.

    And in the middle of it is the one technology pretty much all the big car players have agreed on - Lithium Ion. Afghanistan and Bolivia, large as their stash may be, is not happening anytime soon. [discovery.com]
    It'll be Argentina & Chile's salt flats, slightly more expensive Lithium from spodumene ore in Australia, China (and to lesser extent North America and some other locations in the world), and for countries that are willing to pay premium for national security and divorcing workforce driving to work from import dependence like Korea - production from ocean seawater.

    China is concerned wants to make sure it's lithium needs are served before everything else.
    This development is anything but surprising.

  • Re:Easy solution (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Dunbal (464142) * on Wednesday October 20, 2010 @02:12AM (#33957594)

    They just create it, like they have been doing so far. The biggest purchaser of US treasuries is (drumroll) - the US government.

    Now I'm not saying this is a good idea (it's not. Keynes may have said "in the long run we're all dead", but if you act irresponsibly you can be dead in the short run too). But it's the status quo and has been for a long time. Getting the money is never a problem for the US government. It's maintaining the value of the currency that's the problem.

  • by copponex (13876) on Wednesday October 20, 2010 @02:46AM (#33957754) Homepage

    China's kind of like the neighbor kid that knocks on my door and offers to mow the lawn for $20. It's not that I can't mow myself, but when it's so cheap to pay someone else why do it myself? If he ever didn't show up for a couple weeks I'd just do it myself, but as long as he's offering I'll keep paying him.

    China has 97% of the rare earth metals rights across the world. It is the world's number one exporter. It has the largest reserves of cash and raw material in the world. (I even submitted a story about this back in April [slashdot.org].) I've read the GAO report on restarting our mines. Forgive me for taking their estimate with a grain of salt, but something tells me 15 years is a long time to be out of the technology manufacturing business.

    I think you're confused on who the kid with the lawnmower is.

  • by copponex (13876) on Wednesday October 20, 2010 @02:50AM (#33957764) Homepage

    If anything you just said is true, why is Germany the #2 exporter in the world, and kicking our ass in exports per capita? ($12,000 vs $3,000)

    Your bullshit diversions are meaningless.

  • Re:Easy solution (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 20, 2010 @03:07AM (#33957840)

    But seriously, everyone knows by now that China and American are stuck. Breaking out of the current relationship would fuck both of you up. And China has way more slack than the US does to fuck around and be an abusive boyfriend. And everyone saw that coming to.

    Not quite everybody, as most of the comments on this post demonstrate.
    Furthermore, give another 5-10 years and China will diversify it's market (it has to if US thinks of deffering its debts) and US will start playing bitch with the badboy.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 20, 2010 @03:10AM (#33957856)

    In what factory, you jingoist ignorant fuck?!

    Well...I only did a very quick search on Google, but I'll go out on a limb on this one.

    I going to guess that it's the factory that makes nail guns like the Bostitch N80CB-1or the N66C-1, you ignorant communist douche.

    Seriously...the N80CB-1 says it's made in the USA right on the Amazon page for it, and the other one mentions it in one of the reviews. They're good nail guns too, if you're into that sort of thing. It's even a union shop.

    Hey...all of the metaphorical talk isn't lost on me, but you picked a really fucking stupid example. Judging from all of the condescending comments, you should probably find some help. Seriously...go back and read some of your own material. You sound like a dysfunctional jackass.

  • by dafing (753481) on Wednesday October 20, 2010 @04:25AM (#33958172) Journal
    Cmon....New Zealand goes just fine without agricultural subsidies, our farmers were proud of "doing it on their own merit",

    http://newfarm.rodaleinstitute.org/features/0303/newzealand_subsidies.shtml [rodaleinstitute.org]

    As a Vegan, I wish we *WEREN'T* so invested in Animal Agriculture, which remains very profitable without subsidy.

    This story is of a spoilt USA crying after being beaten at its own crooked game. My parents have this image of China as rural agriculture, of living off five grains of rice a day. I'm 22, and my generation probably see things differently :

    http://macenstein.com/default/2010/07/exclusive-pics-of-the-shanghai-china-apple-store/ [macenstein.com]

    Bend Over, Here It Comes Again
  • War proofing (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Darkman, Walkin Dude (707389) on Wednesday October 20, 2010 @04:46AM (#33958250) Homepage
    Food subsidies (most, not all) are war proofing, because you don't want to be dependent for your daily bread on some third world tinpot dictator who can employ slave labour. Its more of a strategic consideration than anything else. Dumping is inexcusable though.
  • Re:Woot for me (Score:5, Interesting)

    by gtall (79522) on Wednesday October 20, 2010 @05:59AM (#33958588)

    Hear, hear! In the long term, I think it will be a good thing that China's regime is finally showing its true colors as a childish mannequin of a government, too brittle to accept even the mildest criticism due to having no legitimacy. They were never elected, and the Heavens aren't smiling like they used to in the olden days when claiming a Heavenly mandate was all that was needed.

    This will force the U.S. and the West in general to get smarter about what materials are necessary for modern life and find substitutes for the ones China controls. It will have the effect of shifting the West's economy further away from China's.

  • by TheLink (130905) on Wednesday October 20, 2010 @07:36AM (#33959096) Journal

    China's kind of like the neighbor kid that knocks on my door and offers to mow the lawn for $20. It's not that I can't mow myself, but when it's so cheap to pay someone else why do it myself? If he ever didn't show up for a couple weeks I'd just do it myself, but as long as he's offering I'll keep paying him.

    And even better, you're paying him in "iamhassi" dollars some of which you borrowed from him ( like 2+ trillion or so :) ). To cap it off you can create trillions of "iamhassi" dollars on your computer anytime you want (and the US already has: google Federal Reserve trillions).

    The US likes to make out China as the bad guy. Sure China are bad, but China's not screwing the USA as much as the USA has been screwing everybody else- since much of the world buys and sells stuff in US dollars, whenever the USA creates money they in effect tax the rest of the world.

    With all the savings from the "neighbor kid"'s abnormally cheap services and goods, you could:

    a) invest it wisely for the future
    b) buy a huge TV, junk food, sit on your butt and grow fat.
    c) spend it on fighting a war with two other neighbours.

    If you pick b) + c) why is it the kid's fault?

  • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Wednesday October 20, 2010 @08:03AM (#33959248) Homepage Journal

    We'll build a fucking nailgun.

    In what factory, you jingoist ignorant fuck?!

    We have lots of factories. Many are sitting around doing nothing. We can spin up in amazingly short periods of time by essentially drafting all necessary personnel. Done it before, will do it again.

    You didn't do shit when they busted the unions.

    Unions are leeches. We need rights for all workers, not to protect the rights of a few. When there were no rights for any workers, unions were a necessary step. Now they exist solely to secure special rights for a privileged few. They are also anti-meritocratic, which was again a fair tradeoff once, but which is now simply an impediment to greatness.

    You didn't do shit when the easier jobs were shipped over there.

    Not a problem for the educated. The people who can only do those jobs can't do my job. Why would I do shit? The unemployed are supposed to riot.

    You didn't do shit while the Congress continued to cut taxes for corporations so they could sell us out. You just sat there, with that smug look on your face, saying "Yeah boy! This is America! We believe in the Market, not in that damn Government interference. Why pay more for TV set? That's stupid, when we can all just put it on a credit card for half the price.

    So uh, what did you do?

    Do me a fucking solid favor. Go find the largest object you can imagine shoving up your ass, and then sit on it. Because it's a good primer on what the next thirty years is going to be like for you.

    I have news for you. This is what the next thirty years is going to be like for everyone. That's what "global economy" means. HTH, HAND.

  • by rainer_d (115765) on Wednesday October 20, 2010 @08:22AM (#33959412) Homepage

    Because we have basically transferred a trillion into the Eastern part, because it was run-down by 40 years of socialism.
    That said, Germany has some unhealthy spending habits that it really needs to get rid of.

    But at least, we are not printing money like US does (helo QE2).
    And we still have a healthy manufacturing industry (whose products China is actually buying).

  • by jeff4747 (256583) on Wednesday October 20, 2010 @05:12PM (#33966554)

    You can only do so much to avoid them.

    Texaco posted the largest corporate profit in the history of the planet.

    They paid $0 in income tax.

    So the reason people "say things like this" is because virtually no company pays 35%.

    For us individual taxpayers, what we can write off is explicitly written out in regulations and laws. In the business world, the standard is "common practice". Meaning, if you get away with it for a while, you can do it forever. And if you have lawyers, you can get away with it for a while.

    If you want to talk about small businesses paying too much in taxes, you may have a case since they don't have the resources to get away with writing off huge swaths of income. But no medium to large business pays anywhere near 35% due to all they can write off.

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