Following a meeting with Chinese Vice Foreign Minister He Yafei on Friday, Mr. Smith said Chinese officials have provided further details to the Australian government on the detention of Mr. Hu and three other Rio Tinto employees.
“It is quite clear they are focusing on a criminal or judicial investigation relating to the 2009 iron ore negotiations, that is their clear focus, they are not interested in what we would regard as espionage or national security matters,” Mr. Smith told Australian Broadcasting Corp.
[…] On Friday, Rio Tinto said it firmly denied claims that four of its employees bribed officials at Chinese steel mills, saying it fully supports the men who have been detained without charge by the Chinese. The foreign minister added officials from both governments will continue to discuss the issue.
Read also an editorial from the New York Times on the case:
All countries have a right to prosecute foreign companies and their executives for violating its laws. China’s steel business is reportedly rife with corruption.
But the Chinese government is acting like the guilty party. To be credible, it must detail the charges and provide evidence to justify its actions. The executives must be guaranteed an impartial, transparent trial. So far they haven’t even been allowed to see a lawyer. A Rio Tinto official said that won’t happen until they are officially charged — and that could take months.