Julie Klinger on China’s rare earth frontier


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This week on Sinica, Kaiser chats with Julie Klinger, an assistant professor at the University of Delaware’s Department of Geography and Spatial Sciences, about rare earths — a family of 17 elements that are essential to the function of modern industry and are indispensable in everyday technology. Julie debunks many of the myths surrounding China and rare earths, and lays out her ideas about why, despite the relative ubiquity of mineable rare earth deposits, China has dominated production of these vitally important minerals for decades. 

3:00: Debunking conventional wisdom on China and rare earths

9:55: What are rare earths and how important are they

21:30: How China’s near-monopoly on rare earths came to be

32:49: Mining and environmental degradation

45:32: China’s decision to slow down rare earth production and its consequences


Julie: Going outside for the sake of going outside, and The Probiotic Planet: Using Life to Manage Life, by Jamie Lorimer.

Kaiser:The chip choke point,” by Tim De Chant, in The Wire China (listen to the article on China Stories).