Beijing bullies, Mumbai entices
That India is a less threatening emerging economy compared to China was reinforced by the heartburn caused by the latter’s undeclared export quota restrictions on rare earth minerals to Japan, the European Union and the US. Without resorting to a formal ban or slowdown of rare earth exports, which are critical components in high-technology, defence and energy industries, China tried to explain its provocation as a spontaneous reaction of Chinese entrepreneurs whose ‘feelings’ had been hurt by a tiff with Japan. Beijing also claims that mining, processing and refining of rare earths have harmful consequences for the environment and that they have to be limited for ecological reasons.
However, this green alibi does not wash. China actually treats its virtual monopoly over rare earths as a weapon to wage economic warfare. Former Chinese patriarch Deng Xiaoping’s maxim from the early 1990s that “the Middle East has oil, while China has rare earths” is a giveaway of Chinese strategic planning to attract maximum foreign investment into its own high-value-added industrial sectors by rendering rare earths scarce in the rest of the world.
China’s beggar-thy-partners policies
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