China and its Rare Earths Dilemma – Part 2/2

March 21, 2012

In January 2011 (more than a year ago), Reuters reported, “China has said other countries should share the burden of mining the metals. Illegal mining practices and over-exporting rare earths have hurt China’s environment and depleted its resources.”

After the recent threat by President Obama and the West’s media coverage of China regarding rare earth metals, it appears that other countries do not want to share that burden even if they will not admit it.

As the following video points out, the US has the third largest reserves of rare earth elements. However, US companies, unable to compete and under fire from US regulators for sloppy environmental practices, shut down leaving it up to China to pollute its environment while supplying the world with rare-earth metals.

As you are discovering, this story of rare earth metals is more complex than what the media is reporting.  For example, in February, according to a recent 2012 Gallup poll, Iran was considered Americans greatest enemy with China earning second place.

In this pole, Gallop’s asked, “What one country anywhere in the world do you consider to be the United States’ greatest enemy today?”

The results: Iran earned 32% of the vote, and China had 23% for second place followed by North Korea with 10%. Afghanistan snagged fourth place with 7%.

Gallup says, “More Americans mention China as the United States’ greatest enemy (23%) this year than at any point in the 11-year history of the question, likely reflecting at least in part Americans’ concern over China’s global economic influence. Last year, China tied North Korea for second place, but mentions of North Korea have declined, leaving China alone in second place in 2012.”

If Gallup’s annual World Affairs poll, conducted February 2-5, mirrors public opinion in the US, then why does America depend so much on China to supply rare earths for its global high-tech war on terroism?

It isn’t as if America doesn’t have its own supply of rare earth metals — the US has an ample supply, but due to harsh environmental laws that deal with pollution, it is too expensive to mine and produce these rare earths in the US and cheaper to let China do it even if it does pollute China’s environment leading to criticism from the American media and Western bloggers that use computers and smart phones that would not exist without China’s rare earths. Do you see the irony and hypocrisy here?


Is China America’s new enemy?

If you doubt that America does have an ample supply of rare earths, then read this report released by the Natural Resources Committee – US Congress on November 17, 2010.

Once all the facts are known, it appears that the US federal government does not agree with the 72 million Americans that believe China is our second greatest enemy. In fact, America’s leaders may not see China as an enemy at all but prefer that many Americans continue to feel this way. The answer why may be found in the US  Department of Defense, which has the largest slice of the US federal Budget. According to US Government Spending.com, the defense department’s slice of that pie is 24% or $ 901.4 billion US.

After all, without a boogieman to scare US citizens and give them nightmares that America has serious enemies, where is the justification to continue this massive defense spending, which may soon bankrupt America?

Return to China and its Rare Earth Dilemma – Part 1

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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China and its Rare Earths Dilemma – Part 1/2

March 20, 2012

Recently, the media released a barrage of criticism on China regarding rare-earth minerals, since China produces 97 percent of the global supply of these vital metals.

This happened when President Obama said he would pressure China through the World Trade Organization (WTO), and the media mob focused on this threat while ignoring many of the facts.

For example, on March 13, 2012, the National Journal reported, “Obama Challenges China over its Hold on Critical Technology Materials.”

However, all but forgotten is what Reuters reported in January 2011, that China “slashed its export quota by 35 percent for the first half of 2011 compared with a year earlier, saying it wanted to conserve reserves and protect the environment … new environmental standard (in China), described as ‘stringent’ by an expert who helped draft the rules, would limit the amount of permissible pollutants in each liter of waste water…”

In fact, China’s tougher environmental laws designed to clean up the air, soil and water within the next decade may be the real reason behind China cutting back production of these rare metals igniting global concern and criticism regarding supply and demand. After all, how many countries, including the Untied States, are willing to pollute their environments to produce these rare earth metals?

To understand how much pollution is caused by the production of rare earths, according to How Stuff Works.com, “In recent years, rare earth metals like lithium have been imported almost exclusively from China, which was able to lower its prices enough to monopolize the industry. One of the reasons China could sell lithium so cheaply was because it widely ignored environmental safeguards during the mining process.”

In addition, while China’s critics bash China for environmental pollution, these same voices also criticize China for attempting to do something about the pollution by cutting back production of rare-earth metals and enforcing China’s laws designed to clean up the environment, which will also cause the price of rare earth to increase and pressure other countries to produce their own rare earths.

For another example, How Stuff Works.com says, “In the Bayan Obo region of China … miners removed topsoil and extracted the gold-flecked metals using acids that entered the groundwater, destroying nearby agricultural land. Even the normally tight-lipped Chinese government admitted that rare earth mining has been abused in some places.”

Why are China’s critics and the Western media along with President Obama pressuring China to resume business as usual, which means continuing to pollute its own environment?

Follow the money/profit motive, and you may find your answer. After all, rare earth minerals are vital for electronics, clean energy technology, computers, wind turbines, electric cars and the production of America’s high-tech weapons necessary in its war against global terrorism.

Continued on March 20, 2012 in China and its Rare Earth Dilemma – Part 2

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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