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Clinton Seeking Answers on China’s Rare Earth Trade Policy With U.S.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will question Chinese officials this week about reports that the country is blocking shipments of key rare earth elements to the United States.

It’s been more than a week since The New York Times’ initial report of China’s policy. Clinton’s trip to Asia this week is meant to get clarification on China’s rare earth elements policy with the United States.

On Monday, I wrote a story about the importance of rare earths — they are used in hundreds of key products, including cell phones and clean energy technology like wind turbines and electric vehicles. With China controlling an estimated 97 percent of the world’s rare earth element production, experts say it’s essential that the United States develop its own source of the materials. The troubled Mountain Pass Mine, which has faced significant environmental problems in the past, is the country’s best hope to develop a U.S. rare earths industry.

Clinton acknowledged the importance of looking for new rare earth supplies this week, according to the Journal:

“Because of the importance of these rare-earth minerals, I think both the minister and I are aware that our countries and others will have to look for additional sources of supply,” Mrs. Clinton said at a joint press conference with Japanese Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara.

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