The trade conflict between China and the United States has already resulted in the impositions of punitive tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars' worth of goods. So long as this situation remains unresolved, China could explore the option of halting its rare earths exports to the U.S.

After the Trump administration "blacklisted" Huawei in May (thereby prohibiting the company from purchasing American components and software), Chinese President Xi Jinping inspected a magnet manufacturing plant of the JL Mag Rare Earth Co., located near the city of Jinggangshan in southern Jiangxi province. The footage of Xi's visit was extensively shown on China's state-run TV.

The term "rare earths" collectively refers to a set of 17 chemical elements that make up a part of the 31 types of rare metals. The outstanding physical and chemical properties of rare earths make them an indispensable component in a range of high-tech products. For example, the rare earth elements neodymium and dysprosium are essential to the manufacture of EV batteries, drive motors and missile guidance control systems.