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China Denies Japan Rare-Earth Ban Amid Diplomatic Row

China denied reports it banned the export of rare earths to Japan in retaliation for the detention of a Chinese fishing boat captain, threatening supplies of a raw material vital to hybrid cars, laptops and iPhones.

“China does not have a trade embargo on rare earth exports to Japan,” Ministry of Commerce spokesman Chen Rongkai said in a telephone interview today. Industrial Minerals Co. of Australia, an industry publication and consultancy, first reported the ban yesterday, citing an unidentified “leading Japanese rare earth buyer.”