Klinger in East Asia Forum on Rare Earth Elements

Julie Klinger, Assistant Professor of International Relations at the Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies at Boston University, published a recent article on the need for global cooperation on rare earth elements. 

Klinger’s article, entitled “Global Cooperation Needed on Rare Earth Elements,” was published in East Asia Forum on September 26, 2019.

From the text of the article:

Today, as in 2010, the international discussion surrounding China’s dominance of the rare earth sector is partial and problematic. It is neither in China’s nor the international community’s interest for China to be responsible for supplying the majority of global demand for rare earth elements. In fact, in 2016, China released a Rare Earth Development Plan to protect domestic rare earth reserves while growing the domestic rare earth industry.

The point of this plan — and previous policy measures — is to change China’s position in the global division of toxic labour. For decades, China’s hinterlands and labourers bore the brunt of mining most rare earths for global consumption. After watching their crops fail, their livestock die, and their relatives succumb to cancer and bone diseases, people demanded better. Government responses have included consolidating the mining industry while incentivising research and development (R&D) in high-tech applications for rare earths.

In these times, China doesn’t want to mine rare earths for the rest of the world. And if recent news coverage is any indication, the rest of the world does not want to rely on China for the global rare earth supply.

Diversifying global rare earth supply chains is therefore a point of common interest between China and other major economies. But policymakers and investors in other rare earth-rich countries are instead fixated on geopolitically-charged rhetoric rather than the realities of the sector.

Julie Michelle Klinger, PhD, specializes in development, environment, and security politics in Latin America and China in comparative and global perspective. Her recent book Rare Earth Frontiers: From Terrestrial Subsoils to Lunar Landscapes (Cornell University Press in Fall 2017) received the 2017 Meridian Award from the American Association of Geographers for its “unusually important contribution to advancing the art and science of geography.”