In U.S.-China Trade War, Rare Earth Elements (Think Smartphones) Are Latest Flashpoint



Erik Ortiz | NBC News

Rare earth minerals are a common part of people’s lives — and their futures.

If you have a smartphone or computer, own a flat-screen TV, drive a hybrid car or use a myriad of other high-tech devices, you’ll no doubt come into contact with these elements — mined from the earth’s crust and supplied predominantly by China — countless times a day.

But they are also used in obscure but powerful ways that ensure some of the biggest companies in the world can keep churning out those products.

Now, rare earths have become a bargaining chip in the expanding trade war between China and the United States, which escalated after the Trump administration placed Huawei, the world’s largest supplier of telecommunications equipment, on a blacklist that imposed some restrictions on trading with American companies.

[To read the original article, click here.]