Rio Staff Trial Seen as Test for China

The Chinese government has announced that the upcoming trial of four employees will be closed. From the Sydney Morning Herald:

Canberra wants transparency in the three-day trial in Shanghai, but hearings on the industrial charges will be closed, adding to questions over whether the men will get a fair hearing in the politically charged case.

The four defendants, all employees of the Anglo-Australian mining giant, were arrested last July during contentious iron ore contract negotiations which later collapsed, and after Rio snubbed a near 20-billion-dollar cash injection from state-run Chinese mining firm Chinalco.

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd Thursday warned China the “world will be watching” the trial.

Australian National University law professor Ann Kent told AFP the timing of the trial smacked of gamesmanship.

It opens the same day Rio Tinto chief executive Tom Albanese speaks at an economic forum in Beijing and as tough iron ore price talks between Chinese steel mills and foreign miners are under way once again.

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