Brussels (AFP) Oct 6, 2010
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao hit back at Japan Wednesday in a row about shipments of rare earth minerals, threatening fresh strains between the northeast Asian giants over a key high-tech resource.
"We will not block the rare earth market," Wen told an audience of business figures in Brussels ahead of a fractious summit with EU leaders marred by a dispute over the yuan and other differences.
Rare earths, of which China is currently the main world producer, are essential elements used in everything from iPods to hybrid cars and eco-friendly light bulbs.
"What we are pursuing is the sustainable development of rare earths, which is necessary to meet national needs -- and also the needs of the world," Wen said.
Japanese Trade Minister Akihiro Ohata said Tuesday that Tokyo will press China at talks next week to stop holding up shipments of the minerals and other commodities during talks brokered by South Korea.
"The government will strongly demand China rectify the situation," Ohata said."
Wen responded in Brussels that it was "necessary" to "manage and control" the rare earths market.
"We will not use (rare) earths as a bargaining tool but to ensure the development of the world," he said.
Rare earths, such as super-magnet dysprosium and red-glowing europium are vital components in hard-drives and computer screens, while the metals also make possible laser missile systems, wind turbines and solar panels.
The problems with Chinese exports to Japan -- which first arose last month during a bitter territorial dispute between Beijing and Tokyo -- have sparked concerns worldwide at security of supply.
Japan arrested a Chinese trawler near disputed East China Sea islands on September 8 and then kept its captain in detention before releasing him.
China reacted strongly, freezing high-level talks and cancelling civil exchange programmes, including a Japanese pop group's concerts in Shanghai and Chinese tourist packages to Japan.
The two sides have shown signs of bridge-building, as Japan's Prime Minister Naoto Kan and Wen met briefly and agreed to improve ties on the sidelines of an Asia-Europe summit in Brussels.
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Asian growth needs stronger currencies: IMF
Washington (AFP) Oct 6, 2010
China needs a stronger currency to boost domestic demand and reduce its reliance on exports, a rebalancing needed across Asia to ensure the region's long-term growth prospects, the IMF said Wednesday. In its latest world economic outlook, the International Monetary Fund said that for China, it was "critical to enhance the role of household consumption in domestic growth" to drive the economy ... read more
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