Online magazine highlighting research, news and analysis covering the European Neighbourhood

“China’s policy to increase export controls on rare earth metals further politicises global energy trade”

Francesco Sassi, a researcher in energy geopolitics and markets at Ricerche Industriali ed Energetiche (RIE) in Bologna, takes a closer look at China’s policy to increase export controls on rare earth metals, oxide products, and crude oil imports.

He writes:

“The move will further politicise global energy trade and make harder for the collective West, and the U and SA above all, to manage the turbulences of markets.” He describes how the Chinese Ministry of Commerce has asked exporters of rare earth metals, oxide products, crude oil importers and the ones of copper ore concentrates and iron ore, key to🇨🇳industrial production and the green energy manufacture industry to report orders and shipments. The new requirements will be valid until October 2025.

These export controls come after the 🇨🇳government has selected the exports of several critical raw materials such as gallium, germanium and graphite to be strictly managed by the central authorities. This is the result of a years-long Trade War with the🇺🇸US, embittering the relations between the two superpowers and threatening to damage global trade by trapping supply chains into market turbulence that would be shaped by geopolitics, much more than the logics of economy.

China largely controls the mining, processing and refining of rare earths. This makes the collaboration with Chinese companies key for all Western countries and especially those in the EU where the energy transition is advancing at its fastest speed.”

He adds:

“Yet, the Russian invasion of🇺🇦Ukraine before, and now🇮🇱Israel’s War against Hamas are destabilising global energy markets and, in particular, upending the balance of green energy markets, where capital costs are spiralling out of control. Moreover, the mounting tensions between the West, supporting Israel at different levels of intensity, and the Arab world, requesting a ceasefire and calling for international investigations over possible Israeli war crimes makes things harder and international dialogue much more difficult.

In all this, China has chosen to balance the U.S. in the Middle East and has sided with the Palestinian cause. Chinese leader Xi (depicted above) has called for a ceasefire while Wang Yi has said that the source of the conflict “lies in the fact that justice has not been done to the Palestinian people.

China appears to be ready to escalate its trade war with the US, before the key turning point of Nov.2024 elections, and even the EU, just a few months from its Parliament elections.”

He concludes, raising the question:

“Will Beijing achieve its goal to soften Western stance and re-open bilateral cooperation?”