China not only supplies more than 80 per cent of the world’s rare earth metals, it also seems to be rapidly collecting elements-related patents. According to PatentManiac, China had filed for 25,911 patents on all the rare earth elements as of October, such that it is far ahead of the 9,810 by the US, the 13,920 by Japan and the 7,280 by the European Union since 1950. Indeed, since 2011, Chinese patents filed on rare earth elements has significantly increased, now representing more than half its accumulated total and more than double that of the rest of the world combined.

With China being the largest producer of elements and an important country when it comes to materials processing, their control over the rare earths supply chain poses some concern for the US, as China could use their position as a bargaining chip in their trade war against the US.