September 23, 2010 (Chinavestor) In the latest sign of how contentious relations between China and Japan have become, China will halt shipments of "rare earth minerals" to Japan. The move comes as China is threatening retaliation against Japan for holding the captain of a Chinese fishing vessel captive. The New York Times broke the story, citing unidentified sources.
The vessel's captain was detained by Japanese maritime officials after being caught in waters that Japan controls, but that both China and Taiwan have laid claim to. Executives in the rare earths industry were told the initial ban will last through the end of the month, and that the Chinese government will assess on whether to renew the ban if the captain of the trawler has not been released, the Times reported.
In reports by Bloomberg and Reuters, Chinese officials denied a rare earth minerals ban is in place. There is speculation that any disruption in shipments of minerals resources from China to Japan is the result of holidays currently being celebrated throughout Asia. China and Japan are the second- and third-largest economies in the world, respectively.