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Rio Spy case should not affect China-Australia trade ties
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13:13, July 10, 2009

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During a routine news conference held on July 9, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said China would handle the spy case related to Rio Tinto employees "according to the law" and the case should not affect the China-Australian economic and trade cooperation.

Qin confirmed that four employees from Australian firm Rio Tinto Group’s Shanghai office, including Stern Hu, general manager of the office, were detained on the evening of July 5 by China’s state security department, on suspicion of espionage and stealing national state secrets for other countries.

Qin said that the suspects were arrested once relevant departments had obtained conclusive evidence proving that they had been working as spies and had stolen national state secrets, severely damaging China’s economic interests and security.

He added that at present the case is still being investigated. China hopes relevant parties can offer positive cooperation, and China’s justice department will properly handle this case according to the law.

Qin pointed out that this is just one individual judicial case that should not affect overall China-Australia economic and trade cooperation, adding that China-Australia economic and trade cooperation is win-win.

China will continue to positively support China-Australia economic and trade cooperation, including cooperation between enterprises of the two countries, because these activities are not only beneficial to China, but also to Australia. Relevant parties should not exaggerate or politicize the case.

Australia expressed its “surprise” by both the detention and the reason for the detention given by the Chinese authorities.

There is speculation that Mr. Hu’s detention may be linked to commercial matters between Rio Tinto and China. But Australian Foreign Affairs Minister Stephen Smith said on July 8 that he had seen “no evidence and I have no basis for any such speculation”.

"The Australian Government and Australian officials may well need to conduct themselves in accordance with the assistance that we seek to give to Australians when they are charged with offences under the criminal law of another country,” said Mr. Smith.

By People's Daily Online


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