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Government Science

China Considering Cuts In Rare-Earth Metal Exports 456

Posted by kdawson
from the thulium-and-thalium dept.
SillySnake sends in a report from the Telegraph on draft plans in China to restrict exports of rare earths. "Beijing is drawing up plans to prohibit or restrict exports of rare earth metals that are produced only in China and play a vital role in cutting edge technology, from hybrid cars and catalytic converters, to superconductors, and precision-guided weapons. A draft report by China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology has called for a total ban on foreign shipments of terbium, dysprosium, yttrium, thulium, and lutetium. Other metals such as neodymium, europium, cerium, and lanthanum will be restricted to a combined export quota of 35,000 tonnes a year, far below global needs."

China Considering Cuts In Rare-Earth Metal Exports

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  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <.moc.liamg. .ta. .nhojovadle.> on Wednesday September 09, 2009 @08:26AM (#29364173) Journal

    Just what the world economy needs. A single-country "cartel" that will cause prices to greatly rise. This should be interesting to watch.

    I guess rare-earth metals are the new "oil".

    Some key points you may have missed from the article:

    Mr Stephens said China had put global competitors out of business in the early 1990s by flooding the market, leading to the closure of the biggest US rare earth mine at Mountain Pass in California - now being revived by Molycorp Minerals.

    So, if this goes through, we merely open the mine in California. I'll feel better about paying a higher price for something if it is created under tighter environmental regulations than what they have in China. Cheap labor and lack of an EPA and potential corrupted officials? Of course they can undercut California!

    Secondly a rare metals dealer in Australia said

    This isn't about the China holding the world to ransom. They are saying we need these resources to develop our own economy and achieve energy efficiency, so go find your own supplies.

    So your analogy is lacking in many ways. We can refine the metals here and China needs them for their own growing demand.

  • Re:Update (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Stu101 (1031686) on Wednesday September 09, 2009 @08:26AM (#29364179) Homepage

    Issue with that is that I think China, unlike Iraq, Iran and Saudi could stand up for themselves.

    Don't forget they DO have WMD, massive military complexes and stolen US designs for highly deadly weapons.

    Then there is the cyber angle. I suspect America could be pwned quite quick.

    Lastly, who is gonna supply walley word with cheap tupperware and lawnmowers to the post nuke surviviors. There is no way that could happen.

    China is the new economy. Western Europe is just on a downhill spiral.

     

  • Re:Update (Score:2, Insightful)

    by RobotRunAmok (595286) on Wednesday September 09, 2009 @08:31AM (#29364219)

    Then there is the cyber angle. I suspect America could be pwned quite quick.

    Because...?

    Lastly, who is gonna supply walley word with cheap tupperware and lawnmowers to the post nuke surviviors

    Ohh, I see now. Midwest-hating urban hipster. never mind...

  • by jonbryce (703250) on Wednesday September 09, 2009 @08:45AM (#29364321) Homepage

    Or alternatively we buy our hard drives from Chinese manufacturers, which I think is what they want to happen..

  • by lambent (234167) on Wednesday September 09, 2009 @08:46AM (#29364325)

    Our oil fields are not dry. Our demand outstrips domestic production. It's just easier to buy refined oil from other countries. The bottleneck has been our craptacular refineries for some decades, now.

    We have lots of choices of where to get oil, including the choice to stop using oil. It's just easier to pay someone else to do it for us.

    I assume the same is true of these rare earth metals.

  • by ZekoMal (1404259) on Wednesday September 09, 2009 @09:01AM (#29364483)
    Not dry, but not nearly enough to supply us. If we stopped importing oil and relied on just our remaining oil, we wouldn't even be able to power the country for a year.

    Furthermore, we can't stop using oil until someone finds an alternative. Know why? Our public water, manufacturing, electricity, heating, transportation, food, shipping...you name it, you can trace oil back to it. We have the choice to stop using oil, but in doing so prematurely, we would be reduced to horse drawn carriages and made-by-hand stuff. If you pass a cursory glance at Congress, they're at best doing a half-assed attempt at fixing the oil problem, but it's not a priority to them.

    So we'll probably end up in a similar situation with rare earth metals. With our own fields being opened up, the power of money will convince the users of these metals to make their product indispensable and integral to American life. Once demand goes way over American supply, we'll rely on China. Then we'll have the same discussion about whatever new quirky natural material America desires and thinks it can get on its own.

  • Re:Update (Score:5, Insightful)

    by CrimsonAvenger (580665) on Wednesday September 09, 2009 @09:02AM (#29364497)

    I always make the argument, what if China decided one day to the next that 300 million (about a quarter of their country) decided to go for a walk and moved to the US via Alaska. Do you really think anybody could stop 300 million people? Answer NO!

    I don't think anyone really has to. There isn't enough food between China and Alaska, or between Alaska and CONUS, to feed 300 million people. So if the Chinese decided to do something like this, we could reasonably expect the one survivor to be completely unnoticed in the trail of 300,000,000 corpses along the way.

  • Re:Indium (Score:4, Insightful)

    by LunaticTippy (872397) on Wednesday September 09, 2009 @09:09AM (#29364591)
    All of the LCDs I have bought lately have been made in China. Their export ban changes nothing with regard to finished products.
  • by khchung (462899) on Wednesday September 09, 2009 @09:11AM (#29364607) Journal

    It does not even make sense! China restricts exports and you propose retaliation by restricting imports?!

    I assume you live in US (who else always talked about reviving local industries?), do you even know how many export restrictions there are in the US? Crypto, high-tech stuff, whatever vaguely related to "national security", you name it.

    All countries (except those that have already became a vassal state of the US) restricts exports of critical resources, and this is allowed in WTO treaties. Examples from countries all over the world include restricting natural resources, science & technology, and even critical infrastructure (you do know that US blocked a company from buying the operations of the Panama Canal for "national security" reasons?).

    Only in /. would this non-news story becomes news worthy to make the front page.

  • Re:Cool (Score:3, Insightful)

    by chill (34294) on Wednesday September 09, 2009 @09:13AM (#29364651) Journal

    Or maybe someone could be held accountable.

    You mean like when China executed several management types found "responsible" for these incidents? That type of accountable?

  • by Maltheus (248271) on Wednesday September 09, 2009 @09:15AM (#29364673)

    Maybe they're getting tired of exchanging their wealth for our paper. I admire the way China is focused like a laser on their infrastructure and the acquisition of raw materials, while we're busy making up new problems to solve as a way of avoiding the very serious ones we already have. Perhaps if we focused on production, rather than consumption, we might have a little extra wealth to spend on our own decaying infrastructure.

  • by elrous0 (869638) * on Wednesday September 09, 2009 @09:15AM (#29364681)
    Sadly, we're well beyond that now. A trade war with China now would likely hurt the U.S. a *LOT* more than the U.S. 30 years of "free trade and free markets" aren't something you can just turn away from now without a total economic collapse. Most of our largest retailers now are all but owned by China.
  • Re:Update (Score:4, Insightful)

    by pjt33 (739471) on Wednesday September 09, 2009 @09:18AM (#29364725)

    China has a lot of coastline, but even so I imagine that most of its population aren't capable of swimming the Bering Straits, so boats will be a serious limiting factor on the number of people they can move.

  • by Paua Fritter (448250) on Wednesday September 09, 2009 @09:20AM (#29364761)

    Actually the bottleneck has been the impossibility of bringing additional refining capacity online in the US.

    True. And actually this isn't just the case in the USA; there are virtually no new refineries anywhere in the world.

    But actually the main hurdle isn't the NIMBY syndrome or over-regulation - it's a simple matter of return on investment. No-one wants to build a refinery because they take a long time to build, and a long time to recoup your investment, and the world's oil supply is known to be running out. Globally, oil-fields are now considered to be at peak production levels; that's to say, it's unlikely that there will ever be more oil being pumped than there is today. So building new refining capacity is a poor investment. Instead, people are just making do with what there is. That's why Iran is now importing refined petroleum from Venezuela.

  • Re:Woo-hoo - (Score:3, Insightful)

    by BizzyM (996195) on Wednesday September 09, 2009 @09:23AM (#29364795)
    Makes perfect sense: we won't export "super computers" like the Playstation to China. China had to figure out what they have that we want and then squeeze it. With all the "green" technology relying on electric motors, we need those rare earth magnets. Bravo, China. Bravo.
  • Re:Woo-hoo - (Score:5, Insightful)

    by NeverVotedBush (1041088) on Wednesday September 09, 2009 @09:26AM (#29364849)
    Do you really expect a country that at least used to charge families for the bullets used to execute family members to act in a humanitarian way?
  • Re:Woo-hoo - (Score:3, Insightful)

    by BizzyM (996195) on Wednesday September 09, 2009 @09:32AM (#29364927)
    NO. I expect them to exact revenge.
  • by russotto (537200) on Wednesday September 09, 2009 @09:34AM (#29364943) Journal

    Perhaps if we focused on production, rather than consumption, we might have a little extra wealth to spend on our own decaying infrastructure.

    Production is icky and bad for the environment.

  • Re:The new "oil" (Score:2, Insightful)

    by kimvette (919543) on Wednesday September 09, 2009 @09:34AM (#29364951) Homepage Journal

    One quick and easy solution is to respond by this by deporting all Chinese nationals who are attending American schools.

    "Okay, so you want to hoard rare-earth metals? I'm sorry, but your students are immediately no longer welcome at our schools until you have fully reconsidered the matter. They will be returning to China by the end of the week and we will be invoicing you for the travel costs. Thank you, come again."

    The problem is, corporate types have been thinking short-term for a couple of decades now. Short-term boosts to the bottom line were to be had by not retooling American factories, but building new factories in China, Vietnam, Mexico, etc.

    Name one television manufactured in America. One hard drive. One car manufactured entirely in America (indluding all parts). One consumer camera, etc. - You can't, can you?

    It boosted the bottom line of big corporations for a while, so the stock price could be driven up and the execs raked in tremendous record "profits." The thing is, this line of thinking has finally bit America in the ass, and the people who got rich from it don't care at all because they have theirs. Everyone else is left holding the bag with a shitty economy where we import almost everything.

    Politicians who are supposed to be our servants have instead been fighting business. We have a NIMBY syndrome. We oppose factories, nuclear power, natural gas depots, new/modern fuel refineries, wind farms. Green or fossil-based, it doesn't matter. Most people have NIMBY as their way of thinking, and idiotic treehuggers have BANANA (build absolutely nothing anywhere near anyone). Politicians have cowed to foreign nations and lowered (in some cases dropped) import tariffs, while those same trading "partners" slap huge tariffs on our exports, making us completely uncompetitive on what little we do export. Incidentally, losing that tariff revenue has lead to heavy dependence on income and property taxes, breaking the middle class's back.

    Politicians need to be reminded that a good leader is a SERVANT. They need to keep their own people's well being a higher priority than foreign interests at ALL times. They need to have a long-term outlook for our nation, not short-term profitability so corporate executives can rake in huge bonuses and then profits on their stock grants and options.

    The best solution to these issues is:

      * ban foreign nationals from attending our schools
      * rethink our lowering and eliminating income tariffs
      * introduce huge incentives (read: tax breaks) for manufacturing goods entirely in America

    Right now, China has us over a fire. It can be solved very quickly, without making 'rare-earth metals [are] the new "oil"' Some parity needs to be reintroduced into the marketplace.

  • by cats-paw (34890) on Wednesday September 09, 2009 @09:38AM (#29364985) Homepage

    I'll feel better about paying a higher price for something if it is created under tighter environmental regulations than what they have in China. Cheap labor and lack of an EPA and potential corrupted officials? Of course they can undercut California!

    Isn't this the problem ? There is no such thing as "free trade". We're all Ferengi now, the profit is what's important. The mine should have not been allowed to close in the first place. It's ridiculous to say companies have to compete when the competition is an autocratic country with no environmental laws and other "advantages".

    And no, the answer is not to weaken our environmental laws, that's called the race to the bottom, and I don't want to run in that race.

    Child labor, lack of environmental laws, repressive regimes, none of it matters when it comes to "free trade".

  • Re:The new "oil" (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Hurricane78 (562437) <deleted@s[ ]hdot.org ['las' in gap]> on Wednesday September 09, 2009 @09:57AM (#29365227)

    Uuum, what have the Chinese nationals to do with their asshole government? They are not their government. It's like punishing you for the murderings by the US Army in in Afghanistan and Iraq. Wouldn't you feel unfairly treated?

    Perhaps they even go to American schools to *avoid* "their" government.

    It's people with your mindset that create hatred against a whole nation for the fault of a few.

  • by kimvette (919543) on Wednesday September 09, 2009 @09:57AM (#29365237) Homepage Journal

    Oh, you must be one of those self-hating white liberals! Jay Severin is right, you people really are that stupid.

    How many colonies has America set up since WWII? How many people has America freed (or attempted to free in the cases of Vietnam and Korea - and yes, I know the Democrats got us involved in Vietnam through engineered situations but let's ignore that since it is irrelevant)? Didn't America free almost an entire continent way back in WWII? Hasn't every conflict America has gotten into in recent years resulted in more liberty for the citizens of the invaded country?

    Are Iraq, Kuwait, and Afghanistan now American colonies? Or, was Kuwait freed from aggressors, and were Iraq and Afghanistan freed from oppressive megalomaniac tyrants?

    Don't get me wrong; I don't agree with the stated reasons for getting into the (second) Iraq war. If George DUHbya Bush were honest and said "Hussein is a douchebag and needs killin'" in classic Texas style, I'd have supported it. If he had said more eloquently "Hussein is an oppressive tyrant and we need to deal with him preemptively" I'd have supported that. However, Bush lied about WMD. I don't not support the war and not support the troops; I don't support the contrived reasons for getting into it when it was clear as day that there were many very real good reasons to terminate Hussein's regime.

    Have you spoken with any troops who have gone there? I have. Several of my friends have done "tours" there. They all say the Iraqis are grateful for what was done.

    It may be true that Iraqis are tired of our troops being there, but they're not afraid of dying for voting for the "wrong" candidate in elections any more, or voting the "wrong" way on any issues. If you think that is the result of imperialist tactics, I don't think that any rational discussion can be had with you.

    Also, in case you missed it: China has carried out several acts of war against us in the last decade or so, one of those being colliding with and downing one of our EP-3 aircraft that was over international waters. Now, it's true that the EP-3 is a reconnaissance aircraft, but surveying foreign territories is SOP, for China, Russia, and America alike. You don't see us taking down Chinese aircraft, do you. China is an aggressor and why we treat them as most favored trading partner is beyond me.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 09, 2009 @10:03AM (#29365307)

    Frankly, I miss the days of over-engineered machines built of inferior materials.

    I have wood working machines from the early 1900's that are more durable, accurate, and mammoth than the cheap plastic shit you buy today.

    Funny thing is, they still work. Like new.

    If this means we actually start over-engineering and building things to -last- again, I'm all for it.

  • by BlueStrat (756137) on Wednesday September 09, 2009 @10:03AM (#29365319)

    Not dry, but not nearly enough to supply us. If we stopped importing oil and relied on just our remaining oil, we wouldn't even be able to power the country for a year.

    Well then, we need to tell the environmental groups to shut up and start drilling in ANWAR and the Gulf of Mexico where there were new huge deposits just discovered and in all the other places where they scream either about some lizard, worm, fish, or where they're completely talking out of their ass like with Caribou in Alaska which absolutely love pipelines, etc. Their numbers skyrocket because of the favorable conditions. We also need to tell the NIMBY crowd tough toodles too.

    I'm sick to death of the people who scream bloody murder about domestic oil drilling while expecting society to provide them with a lifestyle, technology, and consumer goods & services that demand we do things they protest about. You can't have it both ways. TANSTAAFL.

    Technology and our knowledge & skills have advanced and we can now drill with far, far less impact than in the '60s, or even the '90s. The same goes for mining.

    Resource infrastructure is really where the US is lacking and what drives the US to engage in much of the types of foreign-policy nastiness so many dislike in order to obtain what our modern society needs to sustain itself while refusing to pay the price ourselves. There are resources the country *must* have to sustain itself and our lifestyles.

    If we prevent those resources from being obtained domestically, then we'll have to live with making nice with countries that abuse their people, trample freedom, are militarily aggressive, support terrorism, and want to harm the US & the West in general. And who, by the way, also don't give a crap how much they pollute the planet. We just end up outsourcing our pollution and enable bad people to do bad things.

    At least if we're drilling in ANWAR, the Gulf, and offshore in California, or mining in California and elsewhere domestically, we can limit the environmental impact which won't happen if we're getting our resources from China, the Middle East, and elsewhere.

    We can mitigate our oil consumption to an extent, but it will realistically take 3 to 5 decades to make a truly significant impact unless we are prepared to allow many people to suffer and many to die unnecessary deaths. We will still need large amounts of oil to sustain plastics, medicines, etc even if we reduce transportation-related uses significantly.

    Or, alternatively, we can just keep whining about domestic oil drilling and domestic mining, in which case little will change except for things getting worse.

    Strat

  • by samkass (174571) on Wednesday September 09, 2009 @10:04AM (#29365335) Homepage Journal

    The Congressional Research Service puts the cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan at $3 trillion. Obama has been in office for 6 months, and we now have a "projected" deficit of $9 trillion, last I heard.

    Three times the debt, in 1/12 the time. There's some change you can believe in!

    The deficit is the difference between revenue and expenditures each year. The debt is the total accumulated deficits over time.

    The Congressional Budget Office projects that if nothing changes (ha!) over the next 10 years, in 10 years the DEBT will be almost $10T. That number includes the wars, tax cuts, prescription drug benefits, and the first bailout under Bush, as well as the second bank bailout under Obama and the stimulus. Which is big. But not catastrophic. It's more or less a return to Reagan-era budgets.

    More relevant to the article at hand, trade deficits (exported goods vs imported goods) have shrunk dramatically this year as the dollar weakened and the cost of domestic labor shrank.

  • Re:The new "oil" (Score:5, Insightful)

    by srealm (157581) <prez@Nospam.goth.net> on Wednesday September 09, 2009 @10:05AM (#29365349) Homepage

    This is typical protectionist crap. Sorry, but you may be right about businesses thinking short term, but if America starts banning foreign nationals from its schools, and slapping tariffs on foreign imports, how does that make America any better than China?

    And for the record, America DOES still slap tariffs on foreign imports into this country. Usually at the behest of the powerful lobbies. Ever look at things like sugar and wheat imports? Both have either rather large tariffs, or just subsidies for the domestic industry. Why? Because the industry lobbies for those products demanded it. And it has caused a lot of friction with America's trading partners.

    Hell, I remember a 'free trade' agreement a few years ago with Australia where not only did America put tariffs on Australian wheat imports (because of pressure from the US wheat lobby), they also insisted as part of their free trade deal that Australia adopt something similar to the DMCA as part of the deal - at the behest of the RIAA/MPAA. So if you really believe America has been doing other countries a favor in it's trading practices (Food for Oil anyone? Or how about withholding aid money, which is supposed to be completely unrelated to trade), then you're deluded.

    In short, protectionism is bad no matter what. Now whether China is banning these exports because it truly doesn't have enough to satisfy domestic demand, and thus can't afford to supply foreign demand, or they're trying to use this threat to gain more concessions from the international community is irrelevant. Instituting protectionist policies won't help Sino-American relations, and considering, as you have said, America relies so heavily on China for it's manufacturing of almost everything we buy, America just can't afford to ruin it's relationship with yet another country, especially one it relies so heavily on.

    America used to be able to take the high moral ground, and used to be viewed in a generally favorable light in the world. It's America's own greed and arrogance (not to mention going around the world like a bull in a china shop sticking it's nose in everyone else's business) that has tarnished this reputation. The election of Obama has actually started to repair this a little, but only when America starts playing fair with the rest of the world again (ie. treating other countries as equals, as opposed to approaching each trade deal as a "we want this, give it to us or else you're not our friend anymore!" deal) will it actually gain respect again. You seem quick to cry 'foul!' when another country starts using the same tactics America has been using for decades against America. You (ie. America) wrote these new trading rules, don't be surprised when someone else plays by them.

  • by ZekoMal (1404259) on Wednesday September 09, 2009 @10:09AM (#29365389)
    I'm not against drilling; drill away. The problem is that there isn't enough; even if we just started drilling in every spot we could, we wouldn't have enough. It's. Not. Sustainable. Every time we find a new pocket of oil, everybody falls silent and slows down work on alternative energy. Look at our alternative energy options: all of them rely on oil in some way. We have no plans, and drilling to fix our oil problems is so short term that it's laughable.
  • Re:Woo-hoo - (Score:4, Insightful)

    by compro01 (777531) on Wednesday September 09, 2009 @10:27AM (#29365659)

    This distinctly reminds me of an old joke.

    A man walks into a Chinese restaurant and sees the owner reading the paper and smiling. He asks what he's happy about and he points to the front page of the paper which says "100000 Chinese killed in combat!" with "10000 Japanese killed". The man is confused as to why such a stunning loss would be cause for happiness. The Chinese man replies "At this rate, there soon won't be any Japanese left!".

    China is BIG. They've got roughly 1/5 of the world's people. They've got more people than the EU, the US, Japan, and even Russia all put together.

  • by FooAtWFU (699187) on Wednesday September 09, 2009 @10:31AM (#29365723) Homepage

    China is an aggressor and why we treat them as most favored trading partner is beyond me.

    Treat them as an aggressor and there will be war and millions (of Americans, even!) might die. Treat them as a trading partner and there will be trade and millions will have manufactured goods (that they wouldn't otherwise). Not exactly a difficult decision...

  • Oil (Score:3, Insightful)

    by zogger (617870) on Wednesday September 09, 2009 @10:40AM (#29365833) Homepage Journal

    It will get more expensive, but we still have significant oil reserves [wikipedia.org]

    Rare metals, who knows. If it gets down to national survival, there's a buhzillion acres in federal land (parks and etc) that are currently off limits to mining, but that could change fast.

    And we are just scratching the surface on R&D with biofuels. Corn (any cheap sugars) ethanol and soybean (and many other crops) biodiesel are mere first gen efforts, they work right now but are resource and cash expensive. Once next gen gets rolling, like with engineered algae and waste biomass conversion and so on, which could be combined with solar and wind power to run the conversion facilities, we could have liquid transportation fuels for a long time, indefinitely really, as long as we also keep working on better efficiencies and get a lot of the commuter cars running on electricity, and save the liquid fuels more for long haul trucking and ag machinery and aircraft uses etc..

  • Re:Woo-hoo - (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MrNaz (730548) * on Wednesday September 09, 2009 @10:48AM (#29365955) Homepage

    Revenge? It's not revenge. It's their resources, they can CHOOSE to sell it to us, or they can CHOOSE to hoard it for their own use, or they can CHOOSE to turn it into a life sized replica of the pyramids just because they can. That's the nature of it being THEIRS.

    Looking at the history of things like rubber, tea, diamonds and oil, it would seem that we are not aware that we have no God given right to the resources of others, no matter how much we tell ourselves we need it for our survival. Has UK/US historical foreign policy gotten that far into the public mindset that we now get all angsty and self-righteous whenever some country decides that they need their resources more than we need their resources? Seriously people, if we're going to think this way and then acquiesce to the military being used to go fetch those resources and destroy the other country in the process, then lets at least not act all surprised when they get fed up and fly planes into our buildings.

  • Re:The new "oil" (Score:3, Insightful)

    by wvmarle (1070040) on Wednesday September 09, 2009 @11:15AM (#29366329)

    Uuum, what have the Chinese nationals to do with their asshole government? They are not their government. It's like punishing you for the murderings by the US Army in in Afghanistan and Iraq. Wouldn't you feel unfairly treated?

    The first part you are totally right. The second part actually is not even that unreasonable, after all the US is a democracy, where the government is elected and as such directly represents the population. If the population at large doesn't like what the government is doing, then they can vote them out of office. This is more or less what happened to Bush who got into Iraq and got replaced by Obama who is doing his best to get out of there.

    Now try that in China.

  • by Joce640k (829181) on Wednesday September 09, 2009 @12:32PM (#29367369) Homepage

    The Chinese have started a massive pebble-bed reactor building program. They're got the economy, they'll have the energy, they have the mineral resources.... They'll also own an awful lot of American mortgages and can squeeze the USA on debt repayments.

    The USA will be a second class citizen in a few years time if they stop being such consumer-driven dumbasses.

  • Re:Woo-hoo - (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Runaway1956 (1322357) on Wednesday September 09, 2009 @12:52PM (#29367699) Homepage Journal

    I hear ignorance speaking. China is definitely moving into the 21st century. Their arms may not yet be equal to everything the west has, but they are catching up.

    But, more importantly, China can suffer losses at a 100 to 1 ratio, and win against any competitor. If it came to war, the west would either form a coalition, or lose. Oh yeah, we could go nuclear - but so can they. Warring with China isn't something that you want to see happen. It wouldn't be a walk in the park.

    Perhaps most people are unaware that China has been involved in all the wars in Asia over the decades? Mostly indirectly - supplying "advisors", technical advice and training, putting observers on the ground, and offering moral and political support.

    N. Korea still stands as a thorn in the west's side.

    There is no longer a "South" Vietnam.

    Discounting China's ability to fight, based on the poor quality of outdated hardware is foolish and dangerous.

    More, China isn't looking for a conventional war, any more than we are. "Assassin's Mace" is a plan to gain world domination via assymetrical warfare. The restrictions on strategic resources is part of that plan, just as the flooding (devaluing) of the market in past years was part of that plan.

    Go ahead, mock the "sleeping giant", if you will. It only exposes your ignorance.

  • Re:Update (Score:3, Insightful)

    by shutdown -p now (807394) on Wednesday September 09, 2009 @01:12PM (#29368011) Journal

    Issue with that is that I think China, unlike Iraq, Iran and Saudi could stand up for themselves.

    Don't forget they DO have WMD, massive military complexes and stolen US designs for highly deadly weapons.

    Another important part is that Chinese citizens generally support their government (yeah, yeah, dictatorship can have popular support), and especially in the event of U.S. invasion the patriotic feelings would be on the rise. Not only this means no lack of human resources to replace losses, but also consider: how do you counter guerrilla warfare in an occupied country with a population of 1.5 billion, virtually all of which is hostile towards you?

  • by shutdown -p now (807394) on Wednesday September 09, 2009 @01:14PM (#29368043) Journal

    I'm not sure how this is relevant to subject at hand, since this isn't a violation of any obligations of China as a member of WTO.

    Simply put, you don't have a right to refuse to buy for no good reason, but you have absolutely no obligation to sell.

  • by jbengt (874751) on Wednesday September 09, 2009 @01:47PM (#29368609)
    No long term need to drill in expensive, hard to reach places. The US has plenty of matural gas and coal, which could replace much of the oil when costs rise enough to get people to do the engineering.
  • Re:Woo-hoo - (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Runaway1956 (1322357) on Wednesday September 09, 2009 @03:10PM (#29369883) Homepage Journal

    Problem is, we aren't fighting, let alone choosing our battles. China's export industry is expanding throughout Africa and Asia at exponential rates, while our exports shrink. Worse, American corporations are actively exporting technology and jobs to China. IBM, among others, are moving out of the country.

    The corporate world has largely abandoned the United States, and many of those who have abandoned us have thrown in with China.

    There IS a war, of sorts, and China appears to be winning it.

    Our military might may outclass China's, but military muscle is useless without logistics. All of the world's greatest military leaders have been masters logistics. Poor logistics killed the German army on the eastern front, remember? Most people claim that the Russian winter killed that army, but in fact, it was the lack of logistics. If humans on one side of the war survived the winter, then the humans on the other side of the war could have survived - had they planned ahead, and provided the shelter, clothing, and food required to survive such an environment.

    "when you use deception" and "I am wary of playing hardball with China". I assure you, China is playing hardball, and we are being deceived.

  • by zogger (617870) on Wednesday September 09, 2009 @03:58PM (#29370637) Homepage Journal

    At current recovery rates and tech level, yes, but that will get better, there's more there, and they are still finding big fields elsewhere, like the recent big gulf discovery [guardian.co.uk]..and who knows what they have squirreled away in the arctic, either known about and kept secret, or still to be found.

        Combined with more efficient vehicles,(a LOT more efficient, it's possible today with bog standard today's tech, every place BUT the US has a much wider choice of better mileage vehicles) and electric vehicles, and using what petroleum we have in blends with advanced biofuels, we could get by on a reduced petroleum supply load for even longer.

        And telecommuting, a few tens of billion in better data infrastructure could eliminate the need for hundreds of billions worth in commuting costs and pollution., which is cheaper and easier, transporting some electrons, or millions of meat sacks in heavy steel boxes twice a day?

        Giant office towers that are there just so folks can sit in front of a computer screen are *rather wasteful*, when folks can stay home and sit in front of a computer screen. All that commuting and having to keep those huge buildings running, proly 3/4ths wasted right there just because a lot of these companies haven't had the right incentive (that would be clubs to the head to get them to wake up) and cut loose from the Ebenezer Scrooge and Bob Cratchitt 1700s mentality of the necessity of BEING at the office all the time, and make better use of the tech we have now and enter the 21st century. Plus think of the sheer millions of man hours that could be saved not riding in a car or bus or train or even a dang bicycle back and forth and back and forth and back and forth to work.

    We can go a long ways to dropping petroleum (and coal and natgas and..) demand without sacrificing any cool modern way of life, just by doing things smarter instead oif perpetuating obsolete tech because a few already rich people can skim so much profit from it. Heck, we could probably get by with very few new powerplants if they adjusted building codes (and mortgage loan approvals) to require a lot more insulation. The bulk of our electricity use is heating and cooling, and I know that this demand/requirement level can be dropped drastically, I used to be in that biz for a while, retrofitting for more energy efficiency.

        You can read a scosh about it here, superinsulation [wikipedia.org]. It's amazing, you got to see it to believe it almost. You can get some serious savings by just *using* tech that has already been developed decades ago. It ain't sexy for wallstreet skimmers and gamblers that much, so it isn't pushed "in the market" as it could be, or for academic wanking research, but it IS possible. No new nuthin needs to be invented or funded by vulture capitalists or needs "government studies". Just double or triple our generic 50s and 60s level insulation that exists in millions of homes and buildings, along with a few other tweaks like better windows and doors and so on, and you'd be surprised how that works out for the electric bill.

        Easy enough done with a simple one page legislative bill and decent and credible sized tax credits, extended for some years. It could create a million new and actually *useful* jobs and save hundreds of billions in energy costs and dramatically reduce air pollution. But no one big company could get a monopoly on it, not a lot of patents to troll with, etc, so it ain't pushed, and dang sure the energy companies don't push it, cuts directly into the ole bottom line there. Lip service at best, they push what I would term 1/4 ass efforts, not even half assed. And they call that "good cents". I call it deliberate misdirection and marketing propaganda.

    You want to see what really could be accomplished today, with both housing and transportation, check out some of the designs at the solar decathlon competition [solardecathlon.org].

  • by AK Marc (707885) on Wednesday September 09, 2009 @05:22PM (#29371937)
    Not allowed? How do you "not allow" private property owners to stop incurring the expense of pulling underpriced dirt out of a hole on their own land?

    You change import tarrifs such that they compensate for the working and environmental conditions of the originating country, and that would keep the prices artificially high in the US such that the mine would not have closed.

    Why don't we nationalize the entire economy then, Mister Trotsky?

    You are assuming a level of force that wasn't there. Not "not allowed" in the sence of forcing them to stay open at a loss, but "not allowed the conditions that resulted in the closure." The closure happened because of a flooding of the market of products below cost (when externalities are included), and the US should have prevented it, but didn't.
  • by WindBourne (631190) on Wednesday September 09, 2009 @06:43PM (#29372877) Journal
    So your analogy is lacking in many ways. We can refine the metals here and China needs them for their own growing demand.
    Sadly, your facts and analogy are far far worse. China has more then enough REMs. In POF, if they were to supply 100% of the worlds demand, including the coming increases, they would have more than enough for over 100 years.But you really screw up. Lets assume that this really is about them. If so, then a simple stockpile would guarantee that they had plenty for the future. It would be like us (and western EU) who have large stockpiles of Oil, Natural Gas, and gasoline. We have plenty in the ground. We just make sure that we have enough with easy access in case of major disruptions.
    So, that is not the reason. So, lets assume that it is about profits. If so, then they would LIMIT the sale. Yet, they are instead saying that they will not release a number of them after having dumped for the last 8 years. So, THAT is NOT THE REASON.
    OTH, if they stop the flow, then it means that they are looking to control other countries. Currently, they have the stockpiles as well as the mine resources. The fact that they have ran around for the last 4 years trying (with some success) to buy up foreign mines including in western nations, says that this is PURELY ABOUT CONTROL and NOT ABOUT BUSINESS. When you try to starve ppl from needed items, then you are trying to win a war without firing a shot.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 09, 2009 @06:57PM (#29373029)

    You just discovered the kind of logic behind the recent "economic reforms" we've been witnessing.

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