The World Trade Organization today ruled that Chinas restrictions on rare earth exports are in violation of international trade law. For years, the country has maintained a stranglehold on the worldwide supply of rare earth elements— crucial to the manufacturing of smartphones, TVs, and a wide array of other electronics. China provides over 90 percent of the worlds rare earth shipments and has driven up prices by imposing costly tariffs and export quotas. China has long insisted these measures are necessary to conserve its natural resources and lessen the environmental damage that results from mining rare earths. But critics maintain that China has built a monopoly around rare earths and used its influence to create an unfair advantage for domestic manufacturers.