Australia-China business implications over Rio Tinto arrests
Minister for Foreign Affairs Stephen Smith has prompted China to consider the business implications of investigations that have led to the arrest of four Rio Tinto employees, including Australian executive Stern Hu.
“China needs to think very carefully what implications, if any, this has for the international business community and the international network’s view of China,” said Smith. “The Chinese government will be very aware that it is not good for business certainty if there’s a regular pattern of foreign businesspeople being incarcerated.”
Smith has also responded to Opposition accusations that he has neglected to do enough for Hu, arrested on suspicion of commercial espionage.
“For the present we have been proceeding with this matter on a systematic and methodical way, consistent with our consular agreement,” said Smith. “I’ll make a judgment when I believe, if it is necessary for me to make contact with my counterpart.”
Smith pointed out that as Hu was arrested in China, he was now subject to the Chinese legal system: “Australia has to conduct itself in that environment.”
As yet, Hu has not been charged with any offence, so Australian officials have requested the Chinese deal with Hu’s case expeditiously.