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Chinese steel executives join Rio Tinto four

Chinese steel executives join Rio Tinto four article image

Five Chinese executives, from five different steel companies, are among the new suspects embroiled in the commercial espionage affair that saw four Rio Tinto employees detained on July 5, including Australian executive Stern Hu. The nine suspects have not yet been charged but Australia officials have requested further information from the Chinese ambassador regarding the arrest. Chinese authorities say they have strong evidence of "theft of state secrets" but have refused to elaborate. It is unclear whether the arrest is related to the failed Rio-Chinalco deal of earlier this year, though speculation exists. It may also be related to price negotiations over iron ore. Former Australia ambassador to China Professor Ross Garnaut said the incident could have wider consequences if not dealt with correctly: "For future trade relations between China and the rest of the world is important that the matter be dealt with quickly and in a manner which respects the principles of law."

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