Transforming natural resources into industrial advantage: the case of China’s rare earths industry

<div><p>ABSTRACT This paper analyzes the development of China’s rare earths industry, emphasizing the role of state technological initiatives in the country’s transition from rare earth exporter to large industrial consumer of these raw materials. Like other industrial powers before it, China takes advantage of low-cost domestic supplies of strategic raw materials to promote higher value-added manufacturing. We argue that, in the case of rare earths, this strategy has been largely successful, disrupting a classic international division of labor that existed prior to 2000, in which China exported most of its rare earth output to wealthy countries, and transforming Chinese firms into exporters of more sophisticated downstream products.</p></div>