How China Has Apple (And The World) By The Balls

The iPad and the iPhone must be made in China. Ditto for, well, most everything. And it's not only because of cheap Chinese labour. Or sprawling factories. Or lax regulations. Those are reasons, but there's another one. And it's one you might not expect: mud.

The iPad — like other electronics — requires a large amount of rare earth elements mined from mineral rich sludge and mud. As website Mother Board pointed out, China controls 95 to 97 per cent of the world's supply of rare earths.

Rare earth materials are used in lithium-ion batteries, displays to produce different colours and magnets — not to mention glass and polishes.

This is real concern that China controlling the world's rare earths is very bad thing. US President Obama filed a complaint with the World Trade organisation against China over it and earlier this year, two companies (one in California and one in Austria) began mining for rare earth materials. Worrying is that the US Defense Department doesn't seem to realise how important rare earths are for national defence.

In Japan, there has been some success with recycling rare earths. Hitachi recently developed a motor without rare earths — a promising sign that manufacturing is possible without the materials.

But with companies like Foxconn making, well, everything, efforts like this might be too late. Plus, you know how foreign companies can sidestep China's rare earth export quotas? Why by moving their plants to China and manufacturing there. Just like Apple did.

Why the iPad Has to be Made in China [Vice]

Image: Kin Cheung/AP.


Comments

    So the way to avoid paying China money (or more than you want to pay) becuase of export quotas is to move your manufacturing plant to China, employ Chinese workers and pay Chinese taxes. IMO this doesn't change anything, you are still stuck with things being made in China which is, apparently, the problem.
    The whole time I was reading this article I was thinking about a time of war and this is not a solution to the problem, it is simply changing the symptoms

    Additionally with China's cheap labour we're not going to find a move until we get another country with a few billion people to exploit or we get almost complete automation in the component and assembly manufacture.

    The only reason China has a rare earth monopoly is because they mine them cheaply with little or no environmental regulations , an advantage not many other stable countries have (or want) .
    A fix is easy really but nobody likes a trade war fought with tariffs .

    If Chinas' workers could go on strike, the global economy would freeze!

    Old, old, old story. Geez, is Bashcraft even trying?

    No big deal, China has 95% of current supply, not of reserves.

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