Another example, the United States, the European Union and Japan have accused China of violating world trade rules to manipulate mineral prices, rare-earth minerals which run the electronics we use, like mobile phones, computers, and smart bombs. China controls 95 percent of total rare-earth supply because
1. Even though traces of the metals can be found around the world, they are rarely in high enough concentrations for mining to be convenient or profitable.
2. The mining is a very environmentally destructive process, and China has a disregard for health, safety and environmental controls in order to boost their dominance in the market.
3. Salty, radioactive water kept leaking from waste evaporation ponds, leading to the closure of our main mine in California in 2002. (We are trying to clean the process up now.)
This situation is a political issue, because China uses the rare-earth market to control foreign countries and manipulate world-trade. In 2010 China began restricting rare-earth exports, and prices spiked around the world. They use a tiered pricing system, favoring production in their own country, in order to get electronics companies to build in China, using Chinese labor to save on rare-earth cost. Otherwise, American companies have to pay double what Chinese companies pay for rare-earth. In the end, the Chinese economy gets a boost, the Chinese get more jobs, and this makes it easier for Chinese companies to steal foreign intellectual property. Simply put, China’s dominance over these 17 elements discourages innovation around the world and threatens national defense.
Because of these problems with the Chinese, a Malaysia mine has opened, and in California a company called Molycorp has reopened what was the world’s most dominant mine before the 80’s. It is predicted that in five years mines will open all over the world and China’s dominance will wane in rare-earth, along with their power over the world electronically. Meanwhile, the mine in California is selling what they are producing faster than they can get it out of the ground. More info on the issue can be found in this Wired Science article online.
This raises the question, does it matter how you go about something, as long as it is for a good purpose or cause? You know, to my way of thinking, I hear people say all the time that the reason China dominates in the electronics market is because they will work cheaper. It appears that that answer really masks the facts. As this movie clip illustrates, it's more about control than ethics to many people.
Look back at the ages old story of King Solomon in the Bible. Two women had babies at the same time, in the same household. It appears, according to some accounts, that they may have been prostitutes in a brothel. But, one women awakes in the night to find that her baby has died. So, she secretly replaces the baby of the other woman with her own, so she will have a child. When the other woman awakes in the morning, of course she realizes the dead baby is not her child. So, they appear in court before King Solomon, both claiming the live child. Solomon asks that a sword be handed to him, and declares that he will just cut the baby in half and give each woman half of the live child. The mother of the dead baby is pleased with this decision, because now the other woman won't have a baby either. But, the true mother immediately cries out for the baby to be given to the other mother just so the child can live, even if she doesn't get to keep it. Solomon realizes that she is the true mother, because she is motivated by love for the child and not greed and selfishness.
That seems to be a parallel to many moral issues today. Sometimes people are motivated by true concern about morality. But, often it can truly be politics that drives morality positions.