China may only have 30 percent of the rare earths in the world, but they essentially have a monopoly--which the rest of the world has been tirelessly trying to work around. (To wit: Japan looks to Vietnam, the U.S. looks to California and Missouri, everyone looks under the sea.) In a slightly devilish business move, China sought to tighten their grip and raise prices by eliminating all sales to its major buyers, the U.S., Japan, and Europe, for one month.
During the sales freeze, China is also consolidating its various rare earths businesses and buying more rare earths. At the moment, about 60 percent of the country's rare earths supply is controlled by a single company, called Inner Mongolia Baotou Steel Rare-Earth. That company is artificially created and listed as a state-owned company, as China has already forced some 35 local companies to either absorb into Inner Mongolia Baotou Steel Rare-Earth, or fade away.