August 7, 2019 / 1:00 PM / 4 months ago

China rare earths group supports counter-measures against U.S. 'bullying'

FILE PHOTO: Chinese and U.S. flags flutter near The Bund, before U.S. trade delegation meet their Chinese counterparts for talks in Shanghai, China July 30, 2019. REUTERS/Aly Song/File Photo

BEIJING (Reuters) - China’s rare earths association said it would support Chinese counter-measures in the escalating trade row with the United States, which it accused on Wednesday of “bullying”.

The Association of China Rare Earth Industry issued a statement after a special working meeting on Monday to discuss the “guidance” given by Chinese President Xi Jinping during a visit to a rare earth plant in Jiangxi in May.

Xi’s visit stoked fears China would use its dominance over production of rare earths, a group of 17 chemical elements prized for their use in consumer electronics and military equipment, in the escalating trade war, although no restrictions on supplies have so far been announced.

U.S. President Donald Trump said last week he would impose further tariffs on another $300 billion of Chinese goods, although a previous lists avoided rare earths, for which the United States relies heavily on China.

The Chinese association rarely comments on the trade war and made no mention of export restrictions, but said all attendees at the meeting agreed that U.S. tariffs on Chinese goods were aimed at suppressing China’s development and amounted to unilateralism, protectionism and “trade bullying behavior.”

“We express our firm opposition,” it said, adding that Chinese rare earth companies should actively expand overseas markets, as well as the domestic market.

“The cost of tariffs imposed by the United States should be borne by the U.S. market and consumers,” the association said.

China customs is due to report its July rare earth export data on Thursday.

Reporting by Tom Daly; Editing by Alexander Smith

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