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Engineering Materials
US Faces Off With China Over Rare Earths
3/28/2012

President Obama announces a World Trade Organization action to enforce U.S. trade rights with China regarding rare earths and other materials, March 13, 2012.   (Source: Official White House photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama announces a World Trade Organization action to enforce U.S. trade rights with China regarding rare earths and other materials, March 13, 2012.
(Source: Official White House photo by Pete Souza)

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Rob Spiegel
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Re: World Politics Over Natural Resources
Rob Spiegel   4/5/2012 11:14:37 AM
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That's an interesting differentiation, Ann, chess versus poker. I don't really know enough about the inner workings to know if it's chess of poker. But I would guess it's poker simply because poker does move faster and it is less complex. It could be that industry entities are playing poker while the governments are playing chess.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: World Politics Over Natural Resources
Ann R. Thryft   4/4/2012 5:04:22 PM
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Rob, thanks for that info on who's manufacturing what where. The manufacturing relationships are certainly complex. Meanwhile, while some commenters have described our overall relationship with China as a chess game--long, drawn-out, complex and slow--this trade restriction section of it looks more like poker to me, as do all of the separate, individual disputes we've had with them. Poker is slower than a lot of other card games, but faster than chess: both depend on strategy and bluff, to somewhat different degrees.


Ann R. Thryft
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Re: World Politics Over Natural Resources
Ann R. Thryft   4/4/2012 4:54:38 PM
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I think the economic and sociological trends don't support the assumption that countries like Europe and the US with aging populations will somehow retain economic or cultural dominance because of "inventiveness," and I can't see how the rising Chinese tide will also float our boats because the so-called "free market" somehow dictates this. Historically speaking, these assumptions have been shown to be incorrect. The free market does not exist in the abstract; it's made up of individuals and cultures. Resources are limited, especially with the current global population burden: if one group takes them they are not available to another group.


Rob Spiegel
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Re: World Politics Over Natural Resources
Rob Spiegel   4/4/2012 10:14:59 AM
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China had been pretty determined to fulfill as many of its product needs as possible from within its own companies. U.S. companies have been teaming up with Chinese companies to get some of the action. So rather than sending finished goods to China, U.S. companies are manufacturing goods inside China for sale to the domestic market. GM is a good example. They are the leading automaker in China for seven years running. I'm not sure how it works, but I would guess they have a Chinese parter for the manufacturing.

I understand a Chevy in China goes for about $2,000.

Here's more:

http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/business/2012/01/general-motors-sells-record-2-5m-vehicles-in-china/

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: World Politics Over Natural Resources
Ann R. Thryft   4/4/2012 9:49:36 AM
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Rob, thanks, I'd forgotten that term "sleeping giant" but I remember hearing it too for about that long. And that's a good point, that the middle class consumer appetite is being filled apparently by products from either China itself or other countries.

Rob Spiegel
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Re: World Politics Over Natural Resources
Rob Spiegel   4/3/2012 3:29:49 PM
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Good point, Ann. I've been hearing U.S. brand owners talking about the "sleeping giant" for 30 years. The idea is that China's huge population at some point will become a gigantic consumer market has been watched for many years. China's consumers do indeed like U.S. products. Yet so far, much of that appitite is being filled by counterfeit products. So China's desire for U.S. products has so far been somewhat of a disappointment.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: World Politics Over Natural Resources
Ann R. Thryft   4/3/2012 8:34:38 AM
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There's a difference between US concerns about Japan and China. The US feared Japan because we suddenly had a (somehow unforeseen) competitor in electronics, and a very good one. The facts are that US "manufacturers" have not only offshored jobs to Asia but for well over a decade have also been courting China in hopes of selling their products and/or materials/components there because its middle class is getting bigger and about to get huge, way way bigger than Japan's, and because its appetite for everything is expanding.


jmiller
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Re: Uneven Distribution of Natural Resources
jmiller   3/31/2012 5:04:08 PM
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I think one of the issues here is the fact that cultures do tend to look at contracts or agreements differently.  Through different moral glasses.  And therefore if we are not aware of how they may look at contracts and or agreements and such we may not be talking the same language.

jmiller
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Re: Walking down a slippery slope
jmiller   3/31/2012 5:01:40 PM
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I am with you.  I hate to see government regulation in any form.  Much less trying to regulate a foreign company.  However, I do also agree in some cases an individual or country may not necessarily do what is best for the entire population but focus on what is best for themselves.

Rob Spiegel
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Re: World Politics Over Natural Resources
Rob Spiegel   3/30/2012 4:22:14 PM
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That's good thinking, Ervin. It may take a few decades to play out, but your conclusion is quite sound. We really have nothing to fear over a growing Chinese middle class. I still remember the unfounded fear over the rising economy of Japan in the 1980s. That was needless fear.

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