China Is Said to Resume Shipping REEs


"Shipments resumed after Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton discussed finding alternative REE suppliers."

The Chinese government abruptly ended its unannounced embargo of exports of crucial strategic minerals to the United States, Europe and Japan, although shipments to Japan still encountered some difficulties, four rare earth industry officials said Thursday.

After blocking shipments of raw rare earth minerals to Japan since Sept. 21, and to the United States and Europe since Oct. 18, Chinese customs officials, without explanation, allowed shipments to resume to all three destinations, said industry officials who insisted on anonymity because of the diplomatic sensitivity of the issue. Resumed shipments to Japan still face additional scrutiny and some delays.

The decision came a day and a half after Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton announced plans to visit China on Saturday. She met on Wednesday in Honolulu with Japan's foreign minister, Seiji Maehara, and said afterward that the suspension of shipments had been a "wake-up call" and that both countries would have to find alternative suppliers.

Because China is on the opposite side of the international dateline from Honolulu, it was already midday on Thursday in China by the time Ms. Clinton spoke and rare earth shipments had resumed. Chinese customs officials allowed rare earth shipments to proceed starting Thursday morning China time, industry officials said.

Officials in two departments of China's General Administration Customs in Beijing declined to comment regarding the status of rare earth exports. The commerce ministry, which handles trade policy, also had no immediate comment.

Senior commerce ministry officials have insisted repeatedly that they have not issued any regulations halting shipments. They have suggested at various times that the halt represented either a spontaneous and simultaneous decision by the country's 32 rare earth exporters not to make shipments because of a deterioration in Sino-Japanese relations or a greater thoroughness on the part of customs inspectors.

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