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A mining/crushing supervisor at MP Materials displays crushed ore before it is sent to the mill at the MP Materials rare earth mine in Mountain Pass, California, 30 January 2020. (Steve Marcus/File Photo/Reuters)

How to break China's monopoly on rare earths

Much attention has been focused on the burgeoning US-China tech war and the US’s suppression of Chinese companies. But less is known about China’s firm hold on the rare earths supply chain, which has the potential to derail the world’s production of products from the humble smartphone to F-35 aircraft and guided missile systems. In response, the US and its allies, including the EU, Japan and Australia, are actively coalescing around new rare earths strategies. But private investment alone will not be enough to challenge China’s global monopoly in rare earths. Can new international public-private partnerships be the answer?
US President Donald Trump reacts during a campaign rally in Charlotte, North Carolina, US, on 2 March 2020. (Carlos Barria/File Photo/Reuters)

US rallying 'wolfpack' to contain China, but will it work?

China has drawn a lot of flak recently for its aggressive and brash approach known as “wolf-warrior diplomacy”. But wolfish talk of another kind is making the news: the idea that the US is the “alpha wolf” or leader of the pack that is forging a global coalition against China. Not only that, like a wolfpack, such a coalition threatens to encircle and pounce on China at the right moment. Are these fears unwarranted?
Employees at a plant of Daimler-BAIC joint venture’s Beijing Benz Automotive Co in Beijing, 13 May 2020. (Thomas Peter/REUTERS)

Germany’s China policy: Will economic interests override values?

Economics professor Zhu Ying notes that German Chancellor Angela Merkel holds a pragmatic approach towards China — specifically, economic interests come first. She has held on to that maxim despite questions from within and outside the government as to whether Germany should be tougher on China on matters that seem to run counter to their value system. In the face of mounting pressures in the wake of Covid-19 and developments in Hong Kong, can Merkel stay the course of balancing economic interests with values?
Passers-by pass by a shop in Via Paolo Sarpi, the commercial street of the Chinese district of Milan on 30 January 2020. (Miguel Medina/AFP)

Covid-19: Racist behaviour must not go unchecked in Europe

Stories of race-related incidents have crawled out of the woodwork and spread almost as fast and venomously as the coronavirus itself. Zhou Ruirui of the Centre of Globalisation and Governance at Hamburg University says it’s time for some self-reflection.