China media: Rare earth ruling
- 28 March 2014
- From the section China
Media give mixed reactions to the World Trade Organisation's (WTO) ruling that China's caps on exports of rare earth elements break global trade rules.
China says that the caps are aimed at reducing pollution and conserving resources.
Rare earth elements are used in gadgets such as DVDs and mobile phones, and China accounts for more than 90% of their global production.
Papers are describing the WTO's decision as "discriminatory".
Criticising the ruling, the overseas edition of the state-run People's Daily says the WTO's decision shows "regulatory discrimination" by the West.
Quoting unnamed experts, the paper questions the rationality of the ruling and points out that the US and Europe are also imposing export restriction policies.
"Many Western countries stopped the extraction to protect their environment, turning to other countries for purchases. China has been supplying 90% of cheap rare earths to the whole world," it adds.
Avoiding direct comment on the ruling, an article in the Beijing News urges the Chinese authorities to regulate the "chaotic" rare earth industry, which has been causing environmental pollution.
"Once the industry is cleaned up and regulated, prices of exports will reach a reasonable level… it will no longer be possible for the US, EU and Japan to import our rare earth resources at dirt cheap prices," it adds.
Echoing similar sentiments, Hu Naijun, a commentator for the China Economic Net, says on a TV programme that controlling exports is not enough, saying more effort should be put in to management of the resources.
"There is the situation of over-extraction in China, so if we could better manage the extraction and protect the resources, we could still comply with the WTO rules, and not affect reserves of the resources," he says.
Urging "fair treatment" for both domestic and foreign companies, Chen Zhidong, an expert on international trade law at Fudan University, tells the Caijing Online that it is not wrong for the Chinese government to protect the environment and perishable resources, but it becomes questionable when caps are only imposed on the export market.
Meanwhile, media are also reporting on the impact of the missing Malaysia Airlines flight incident on Beijing-Kuala Lumpur ties.
The Tianjin News reports that several tour agencies and travel websites have cancelled packages to Malaysia, as travellers are avoiding trips there or taking Malaysia Airlines.
Experts tell the National Business Daily that Malaysia used to be an "investment paradise" for Chinese investors. However, the recent incident will affect the property sector in Malaysia in the short term, as many Chinese are developing negative views of the South East Asian country, they say.
A commentary in the Chinese edition of the Global Times points out that the Malaysian authorities have been "demonised" by some people, which is not a "rational" view.
Several celebrities and netizens have been extremely critical of the Malaysia-led search operation to locate the missing plane, even making calls to boycott Malaysia.
Rebuking such "extreme" opinions, the article reminds readers that Malaysia is the third-largest trading partner in Asia after Japan and South Korea, and it has "exercised restraint on South China sea issue", which is "commendable in the current complex situation in Asia Pacific".
"The missing flight incident should not become a stumbling block to building China-Malaysia relations… Both countries have the political will and determination to lessen the impact of the incident. So the public should be more rational and calm," it adds.
Elsewhere, media report that some administrative functions from Beijing will be transferred to Baoding, in neighbouring Hebei province, while another city, Langfang, will serve as a supplementary industrial zone for the Chinese capital.
These measures have been taken to ease problems such as pollution, congestion and population strains in the capital.
The Global Times Chinese edition welcomes the plan, however, it urges Hebei to build its own competitiveness and not rely on "external assistance".
"It's unrealistic to pin all hopes of prosperity for Baoding and Langfang on Beijing. Hebei needs to take its own chances, forge its own industrial success," it says.