S. Kalantzakos: China and the Geopolitics of Rare Earths
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Sophia Kalantzakos’s China and the Geopolitics of Rare Earths is a book that the broader political science and international relations community has needed. Rare earths are a much-hyped and often poorly understood set of seventeen elements essential for the production of most high-tech products. In 2010 when China purportedly cut off exports of the elements to Japan amid a territorial dispute, China’s unprecedented global dominance of the resource vaulted into the world’s attention.
Concisely and elegantly written, Kalantzakos embeds the specifics of rare earths within broader elements of “geoeconomics”, providing a political economy framework to understand them as another strategic resource. She compares rare earths to salt and oil, pointing out parallels in China’s (historic and contemporary) use of heavy state intervention to maintain and control scarce resources. The book’s primary contribution is not an innovation about how Chinese industrial policy works, although it provides...