Ukraine: Xi Jinping 'feels misled' over Russian invasion
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Russia’s invasion of Ukraine two months ago forced the EU to acknowledge their heavy reliance on Russian energy exports, which even impeded their ability to punish Vladimir Putin. To reduce this dependence, European countries are looking toward renewables, particularly as the cost of fossil fuels like oil and gas remains high during a global energy crisis. However, an expert has warned that the EU’s energy transition away from Russia could face another obstacle, as the bloc may find themselves relying heavily on China next.
According to a report by the EU Commission, China produces 98-99 percent of all the “rare Earth elements” in the world.
These are a collection of 17 rare metallic elements that are used in heavy industry and high-tech uses, especially in the developed world.
These raw materials are also vital for the manufacturing of renewable energy infrastructures like solar panels and wind turbines.
Given China’s dominance in the supply of such minerals, Jason Kaplan founder and Director of Commodities Analysis and Insight Ltd, warned that Xi Jinping could use this monopoly to influence political pressure on countries like the UK and the EU.
Speaking to Express.co.uk, he said: “This is a really big worry for the EU, US and UK.
“If China wants to be pugnacious and do something that will generate and kind of conflict, and they cut off access to these minerals.
“We can’t make electric cars, we can’t make wind turbines, all our energy generation becomes a lot more inefficient.
“It would stop their energy transition overnight.”
If China were to cut off access to critical supplies, it would be a move straight out of Putin’s handbook, after the Russian leader threatened to turn off gas supplies to the EU for months leading up to the invasion of Ukraine.
For EU leaders, the growing alliance between China and Russia could also become a concern, with both countries now controlling a major part of the global energy industry, both in the form of fossil fuels and in renewable energy.
As an example, Mr Kaplan said that China produces most of the world’s neodymium, which is a rare Earth element that is used in magnets.
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But without this metal, he warned that the magnets made in the West would be far less efficient than what they are now.
Mr Kaplan continued: “We’ve seen it with Russia where people believed that Russia was not supplying the volumes of gas it could have done to try and exert some political pressure.
“China is so dominant in some specific minerals that would be very easy for it to exert political pressure by cutting off countries.
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