China is exploring limiting the export of rare earth minerals that are crucial for the manufacture of American F-35 fighter jets and other sophisticated weaponry, according to people involved in a government consultation.
“The government wants to know if the US may have trouble making F-35 fighter jets if China imposes an export ban,” said a Chinese government adviser.
Fighter jets such as the F-35, a Lockheed Martin aircraft, rely heavily on rare earths — a group of 17 metallic elements — for critical components such as electrical power systems and magnets. They are also used in the manufacture of precision-guided missiles and drones as well as most high-tech products from wind turbines to electric vehicles and mobile phones.
The Pentagon has become increasingly concerned about the US reliance on China, which controls 80 per cent of global supplies of rare earths. The US government has made efforts to revive the domestic industry as well as work with allies such as Australia to secure alternative supplies.
Ellen Lord, the top defence official for acquisitions until last year, told Congress in October that the US had a “real vulnerability” when it came to rare earths because China floods the market to destroy any competition any time nations are about to start mining or producing. (FT)
FT photographer Charlie Bibby followed Dr Charlotte Summers, an ICU consultant, at work to record scenes on the frontline of Covid-19 treatment and research.
Citigroup loses attempt to recover $500m sent to funds by mistake A US judge ruled funds that received excess payment from Citi after the bank erroneously sent $500m to creditors of one of its clients instead of the intended $8m, are allowed to keep the payments. (FT)
Australia PM apologises to woman alleging rape in parliament Prime Minister Scott Morrison has apologised to a female staff member about the way the government handled her allegation of rape in an incident that critics said highlighted the “toxic culture” for women in the country’s politics. (FT)
Myanmar military promises new election The military junta that has taken over the country promised it will hold a new election as it defended its February 1 coup and dismissed the impact of US sanctions. Meanwhile, police have filed an additional charge against former leader Aung San Suu Kyi. (Reuters, Bloomberg)
US blackouts leave 4m without power during winter blast Blackouts in Texas and across parts of the central US have stretched into a second day as an arctic blast disrupted electricity supply and demand surged to record highs, leaving more than 4m people to face freezing temperatures without heat or power. The storms have thrown a wrench into the shipment of coronavirus vaccines in parts of the US. (FT)
Russian bourse to open earlier to attract traders in China The Moscow Exchange is set to open currencies and derivatives trading three hours earlier from March, in the latest effort to drum up more demand from investors in China. Trading will run from 7am to midnight Moscow time. (FT)
Indonesia names new head of sovereign wealth fund Ridha Wirakusumah, head of Indonesia’s Bank Permata, has been appointed to head a new multibillion-dollar sovereign wealth fund that is intended to underpin sweeping economic reforms in south-east Asia’s largest economy. (FT)
Civil rights group files lawsuit against Trump over Capitol attack The NAACP has filed a federal lawsuit against Donald Trump, his attorney Rudy Giuliani and two white supremacist groups over their roles in the deadly January 6 siege in Washington, DC. Separately, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Congress will create an independent commission to look into the deadly insurrection. (FT, AP)
Marriott chief Arne Sorenson dies aged 62 The chief executive of the hotel chain died unexpectedly aged 62 at his home in Washington on Monday after a prolonged battle with cancer. Sorenson revealed that he had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in May 2019 and had stepped back from the daily running of the company. (FT)
Japan starts vaccinations The nation is set to kick off its Covid-19 inoculation drive on Wednesday, amid a shortage of a special type of syringe that could lead to doses of the vaccine being wasted. (Reuters)
UK inflation Figures for January are out on Wednesday. In December, the cost of consumer goods rose by 0.6 per cent, up from 0.3 per cent the previous month as prices of transport and clothing rise. (FT)
Earnings round-up Companies reporting earnings on Wednesday include Hilton, Shopify, Rio Tinto and Occidental Petroleum. (FT)
America’s best hope of hanging together is China An unchallenged US is a divided US, writes Janan Ganesh. It follows that America’s best hope of retaining some cohesion in the coming decades is a mighty China. Decline has its uses. (FT)
What Clubhouse can learn from TikTok A lot of hype — and money — is riding on Clubhouse’s success, writes Elaine Moore. That puts the audio chat app in the realm of start‑ups deemed so promising they warrant sky-high values, and which are expected to reward early investors. Clubhouse is becoming the anti-Reddit for stock market investors. (FT, Bloomberg)
South Korea goes missing as multilateral moment strikes President Moon Jae-in declared that restoring multilateralism would be a core pillar of the global fight against the pandemic fallout. Despite early signals of progress, there has been a lack of substantive policy to back up his proclamations, Edward White writes in our Trade Secrets newsletter. (FT)
McKinsey’s work on opioid sales is a new low “My former consultancy demonstrates what is wrong with business school graduates,” writes author Tom Peters. That McKinsey is one of the biggest employers of MBA graduates is not unrelated to the OxyContin affair, he argues. It’s led to a consistent short-changing of “moral responsibility of enterprise”. (FT)
Bill Gates’ master plan to combat climate change The founder of Microsoft has a prescription for avoiding the catastrophe of climate change: the planet must do nothing short of reducing greenhouse emissions from about 51bn tons a year, to zero by 2050. Meanwhile, climate change and xenophobia are on a collision course. (WSJ, New Yorker)
Joe Biden’s huge bet on the economy The US president’s strategy for the nation’s economy is the most radical departure from prevailing policies since Ronald Reagan’s free market reforms 40 years ago, writes our economics editor Chris Giles. Meanwhile, Biden’s green agenda and his trade policy are at a crossroads, Peggy Hollinger writes. (FT)
Claer Barrett’s Money Clinic This week Claer hears from a couple in their 30s who have each run up large credit card debts. Duncan and his partner found that the pandemic made their debt problems worse. How can they get their finances back on track? Could a debt adviser help? Chris Browning, presenter of US podcast Popcorn Finance, has practical tips, and debt advice specialist Alan McIntosh explores different solutions.