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China drops heavy hint it is about to pull the trigger on its most powerful weapon in the trade war

  • The US heavily relies on China for rare-earth materials, which are 17 elements widely used in products like batteries, smartphones, electric cars, and fighter jets.
  • Beijing appears ready to weaponize those exports in its trade war with Washington.
  • China’s top economic planning commission and state media suggested this week that the country might restrict rare-earth exports to the US.
  • Restricting Chinese rare earths to the US could cripple the American tech, defense, and manufacturing industries.

China has dropped its most obvious hint yet that it might restrict exports of rare earths to the US as a strategy in the trade war, a move that could cripple the American tech, defense, and manufacturing industries.

Rare-earth materials — which consist of 17 elements on the periodic table — are one of the most important Chinese exports to the US, as they are found in products such as batteries, smartphones, electric cars, and fighter jets. The minerals are used in tiny amounts but can be crucial to the manufacturing process.

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