A staff member does an analysing job of rare earth samples at the Baotou Rare-earth Research Institute, north China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. (Xinhua/Ren Junchuan)
BEIJING, May 29 (Xinhua) -- Waging a trade war against China, the United States risks losing the supply of materials that are vital to sustaining its technological strength.
China produces a majority of the world's rare earths, chemical elements that have magnetic and luminescent properties and are used in a range of consumer products and electronics.
While rarely heard, the rare earth elements are the materials that help light up your smartphone, make X-rays possible and ensure the safe use of nuclear reactors.
As the world's biggest supplier of such materials, China has always been upholding the principles of openness, coordination and sharing in developing its rare earth industry.
While meeting domestic demands is a priority, China is willing to try its best to satisfy global demand for rare earths as long as they are used for legitimate purposes.
"We are happy to see that the rare earth resources and related materials can be used in making all kinds of advanced products that help better satisfy the demand for a good life of people from around the world," said an official with the National Development and Reform Commission.
However, if anyone wants to use imported rare earths against China, the Chinese people will not agree.
By making unilateral moves to contain technological development of other countries, the United States seems to have overlooked one fact: the international supply chain is so intertwined that no economy could thrive on its own.
According to the U.S. Geological Survey, from 2014 to 2017 the United States imported 80 percent of its rare earth compounds and metals from China.
Along with the technological revolution and industrial evolution, rare earths are expected to be applied in more areas, and their strategic value will become more prominent, said the official.
China has reiterated its stand in promoting multilateralism and tried to avoid a trade war that hurts public interests.
But if necessary, China has plenty of cards to play.