BEIJING, March 15 (Xinhua) -- China's restrictions on rare earth exports are justified and are in line with World Trade Organization rules, Shen Danyang, spokesman for the Ministry of Commerce, said Thursday.
"The policy aims to protect resources and environment, and realize sustainable development. China has no intention of restricting free trade or protecting domestic industries by distorting its foreign trade," Shen said at a regular press conference.
Faced with mounting resource and environment pressures, the government has restricted the development of heavy energy consumption, heavy pollution and resource-related industries in recent years, which helped promote not only the country's scientific development but also the world's sustainable growth, Shen said.
On Tuesday, the European Union, United States and Japan formally asked the WTO to settle a dispute with China over restrictions placed on exports of raw materials including rare earth elements.
"China will properly deal with the dispute settlement request in accordance with WTO rules," the spokesman said
The country supplies more than 90 percent of rare earth products on the global market, but its reserves only account for about one-third of the world's total. Disorderly mining of rare earths has been blamed for environmental damage in rare-earth-rich regions across China.