[China Daily, People’s
Republic of China]
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China Daily, People’s Republic of China
Obama’s Rare Earth ‘Hypocrisy’ Shows
Disregard for China’s Environment
By filing complaints with the World Trade Organization
against China for allegedly restricting exports of industrially-vital rare
earth elements, is the Obama Administration turning its back protecting the
environment? According to columnist Chen Weihua of
the state-run China Daily, the
position of the United States and its allies, who decided long ago to leave
their rare-earth minerals in the ground due to environmental concerns, is nothing
but outright hypocrisy.
By Chen Weihua*
March 15, 2012
Republic of China – China Daily – Original Article (English)
Barack Obama announced on Tuesday that the United States, joined by Japan and
the European Union, has filed a World Trade Organization complaint over rare
earth export quotas on the part of China. Mr. Obama said this is an effort to “give
American workers and American businesses a fair shot in the global economy."
words imply that as long as U.S. workers and businesses profit from a cheap
supply from China, he doesn’t really care about the environmental degradation that
the disorderly and excessive mining of rare earth materials cause.
a president who likes to portray himself as pro-environment, this is shocking. And
he does this even as he battles Republican presidential candidates over clean
energy issues, and after attempting to restore America to a leading role at the
U.N. Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen in December 2009.
new regulations on rare earth refining and export, which were introduced a number
of years ago, are based on a sound rationale of sustainable growth and
believe repairing the ecosystems damaged by rampant rare earth mining over past
decades will cost tens of billions of dollars - and American, Japanese and
European businesses are unlikely to foot the bill.
the other hand, countries like the U.S., Canada and Australia, which once
produced their own rare earth minerals, halted doing so a decade ago due to environmental
concerns and higher costs compared to Chinese supplies.
discussing China's purchase of raw materials from Africa and Latin America, many
Americans and Europeans like to use the word "grabbing resources" or
even "colonialism," but none would use similar words to describe their
own exploitation of cheap rare earth minerals from China.
is just hypocrisy.
to the U.S. Geological Survey, there are about 13 million metric tons of rare
earth deposits in the United States. Instead of buying from China, Obama should
propose tapping America’s own deposits. Such a move would not only enable it to
share responsibility for supplying rare earth materials, it would create jobs
for Americans, the single most powerful weapon Obama needs to defeat a Republican
candidate in November.
filing the case with the WTO, Obama no must to convince other of why China
should deplete its own resources, disregarding environmental and public health
concerns that are prominently addressed in China's 12th Five-Year Guide
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this case, a WTO victory for America, Japan and the E.U.
would be a defeat for the global environment.
only a third of the world's rare earth deposits, China now produces over 90
percent of the global rare earth minerals, a group of 17 elements that are
widely used in high-tech products such as solar panels, batteries for electric
cars and cell phones.
lack of strong regulations in the past has posed grave dangers to the country
and its people by depleting natural resources and destroying the environment.
For example, rare earth mining has polluted drinking water in regions along
some waterways linked to rare earth mines.
*Chen Weihua is the New York based deputy editor of the China
Daily U.S. edition.
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