Showdown

Obama Picks Trade Fight With China

LIU JIN / AFP / Getty Images

Members of the Guards of Honour of the Three Services of the Chinese People's Liberation Army march during a training session at a barracks in Beijing on July 21, 2011

Hey, China, could the rest of us have some of those rare-earth minerals? That’s the crux of a trade case filed by the U.S., EU, and Japan today, President Obama has announced. China has gradually been increasing export restrictions on the minerals, which are used in high-tech and “green” businesses, and the U.S. has cried foul. An American trade representative said in a statement, "Because China is a top global producer for these key inputs, its harmful policies artificially increase prices for the inputs outside of China while lowering prices in China.” But a spokesman for the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs fought back, saying, "China has worked out its own policy on managing rare earths, which is in line with WTO regulations.” China must respond to the case within 10 days and hold talks with the parties within two months.