The US, Japan, and the European Union filed a joint complaint against China with the World Trade Organization today over Beijing's limits on rare-earth mineral exports, which they say violate China's international agreements. In a speech in the Rose Garden, President Obama accused China of "skirting the rules," and hurting US businesses and workers, the AP reports. "If China would simply let the market work on its own, we'd have no objection," he said. "Their policies currently are preventing that from happening."
Rare-earth minerals are vital for producing electronics, and China now produces 95% of them, the Washington Post reports. But China only has about 30% of the world's supply; other countries, including the US, simply stopped mining the minerals because China sold them for cheaper. But in 2009 Beijing placed a quota on exports, in what it said was a move to prevent over-mining, but which analysts interpreted as an attempt to flex its economic muscles.