BEIJING, April 17 China said on Thursday it
would appeal against a World Trade Organization (WTO) ruling
that found it violated global trade rules with its export limits
on rare earth minerals used in defence and technology products.
China lost a WTO dispute in March, handing Europe and the
United States a victory over what they see as China's unfair
"China will make the utmost efforts in the appeals process,"
Ministry of Commerce spokesman Shen Danyang told reporters at a
China produces more than 90 percent of the world's rare
earths, key elements in defence industry components and modern
technology from iPhones and disk drives to wind turbines.
China imposed strict rare earth export quotas in 2010,
saying it was trying to curtail pollution and preserve
"Regardless of the appeal's outcome, China's policy
objectives to protect the environment and natural resources will
not change," Shen said. "They will also continue to strengthen
management of natural resource products in a manner that accords
with WTO rules and safeguards fair competition."
Prices of the prized commodities soared by hundreds of
percent after China imposed is export quotas, and the United
States, European Union and Japan complained that the
restrictions gave Chinese companies an unfair competitive edge.
The United States said the export limits allowed China to
artificially increase world prices for raw materials crucial for
products like hybrid car batteries, wind turbines and
energy-efficient lighting, while artificially lowering prices
for Chinese producers.
China had been widely expected to lose the case, after a
successful challenge two years ago to its export restraints on a
different set of raw materials used in the steel, aluminium, and
chemicals industries, including bauxite and magnesium.
In that ruling, a WTO panel said China had failed to
demonstrate that its export duties were to curtail pollution or
Decades of unrestrained economic growth has hit China's
environment hard. Refining rare earths requires large amounts of
acid, and also produces low-level radioactive waste.
China has pointed out that other countries, notably the
United States, have closed many of their own rare earths
refineries, citing pollution concerns.
(Reporting by Aileen Wang and Michael Martina; Editing by