In the face of mounting international pressure, China has raised its export quota for rare earth metals. Chinas controls around 95 percent of the world's production of the metals, which are used when manufacturing a wide range of military, commercial, and personal electronics. Back in October last year, Bautou Steel, a Chinese company that just happens to be the world's largest producer of rare earths, openly announced that it would cease production for a month in order to drive up prices.

Now, five months after the US, EU, and Japan filed a trade complaint against it, China has increased its export quota by 2.7 percent. The Wall Street Journal reports that the quota rise largely symbolic, however, as demand has fallen by around 37 percent so far this year, despite Ben Popper's attempts to embed the world's rare earth deposits in his body.