The drop in China’s rare-earth exports last month was due to “market changes” rather than deliberate restrictions, the country’s commerce ministry says, amid speculation that China could cut off supplies of the minerals to the U.S. as part of an ongoing trade conflict.
China has not taken any new measures to control the trade in rare earths, ministry spokesperson Gao Feng said at a Thursday briefing, state news agency Xinhua reported. Gao was responding to a reporter’s question about the 16% decrease in rare-earth exports from April to May recently announced by customs authorities.
Rare earths are a group of chemical elements used in a wide range of products including consumer electronics, camera lenses and military equipment, and China accounts for 90% of the world’s supply. The commerce ministry previously warned that it would not tolerate any other country using Chinese rare earth products to “suppress China’s development.”
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