China’s Rare Earth Deposits Add Trade Tensions to Dispute With Japan

BY Maureen Hoch  September 27, 2010 at 11:50 AM EDT

Amid the recent rise in tensions between China and Japan over Japan’s arrest of a Chinese trawler captain, Beijing has unleashed a reported trading halt on an unusual commodity: rare earth.

Rare earth are metallic elements that play a critical role in manufacturing of electronic and other high-tech products. Last week, Japanese trading officials said China halted exports to the country, prompting pleas from industry heads to resolve the standoff. According to the AP, China’s Trade Ministry has denied the tightened curbs.

In June, special correspondent Kira Kay reported for the NewsHour on how the race to find these rare earth minerals is turning into a sort of 21st-century gold rush:

Find the transcript here.