Premier Wen Jiabao said Friday that the country does not discriminate against foreign companies in terms of rare earth supplies, stating that policies and quotas for both domestic and foreign companies are the same.
Premier Wen made the remarks while meeting with Chinese and German businessmen on the sidelines of a visit by German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Guangzhou, capital of south China's Guangdong province.
Wen said China's previous lack of environmental protection and sustainable development resulted in the excessive exploitation of rare earth metals, which were then sold for low prices.
"Although we now know that we must develop rare earth metals sustainably, we can still afford to meet 90 percent of global demand with less than 50 percent of the world's reserves," Wen said.
He said Chinese and foreign companies face the same standards in terms of environmental protection and ecological sustainable development.
Rare earth metals are a group of 17 elements that are widely used in high-tech products, including flat-screen televisions, lasers and hybrid cars.
China's rare earth metal export quota for 2012 has been largely unchanged from that of 2011. China's rare earth metal exports totaled 14,750 tonnes during the first 11 months of 2011, meeting just 49 percent of that year's quota.
Guangzhou is the second stop on Merkel's three-day official China trip. Prior to her visit there, Merkel met with President Hu Jintao and top legislator Wu Bangguo in Beijing on Friday morning.