China’s powerful planning body has threatened to use rare earths exports as leverage in the trade war with the US, in a sign of increasing tensions between the two powers. Rare earths, a group of 17 metals with a variety of high-tech applications, used in magnets, instrument displays and other strategic applications, are the one raw material where China dominates global supply. A tightening in Chinese export quotas a decade ago brought the little-known minerals to the attention of the international security community as a potential strategic threat. Relations between China and the US have deteriorated sharply since they failed to sign an anticipated trade deal in early May. Last week, shortly after US President Donald Trump blacklisted the Chinese telecommunications firm Huawei, President Xi Jinping visited a rare earths magnets firm in Ganzhou, in southeastern Jiangxi province. The move has been interpreted as the prelude to retaliation. The National Development and Reform Commissi...

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