China said Tuesday it will cut its export quotas for rare earth minerals by more than 11% in the first half of 2011, further shrinking supplies of metals needed to make a range of high-tech products after Beijing slashed quotas for 2010.

China produces about 97% of rare earth elements, used worldwide in high technology, clean energy and other products that exploit their special properties for magnetism, luminescence and strength.
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Beijing has been trying hard to impose discipline on its chaotic rare earth sector and is expected to establish a rare earth industry association by May 2011, said Wang Caifeng, an official with the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, speaking at a conference on Tuesday.

Wang said he hoped the body would perform the same function as the China Iron and Steel Association by ensuring the “orderly development” of the sector through pricing and export quotas.

Impose discipline? Orderly development? Chinese politicians are as much dominatrices as American and European ones. That old central planning schtick is hard to break. Why not just follow where the commerce and culture leads? There’ll be more jobs, more wealth, a richer society, and more happy people.