Last December, China's Commerce Minister, Chen Deming, said the country "has no choice" but to take stringent measures to clean up its rare earths industry, placing export controls on some of the world's most vital elements. Beijing cut exports for the first half of 2011 by 35 percent, following a 72 percent reduction for the second half of last year. While most of the attention in the world's press centered on what was regarded as a strategic decision, Chinese officials said they could no longer afford the damage to their environment. With one third of the world's rare earth reserves, the country at that point was delivering 95 percent of the world's exports of 17 different rare earth substances, which go into a wide and growing variety of crucial industries from computer to catalytic converters to wind farms to many more.
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