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China confirms Rio Tinto employees held for 'stealing state secrets'

CHINESE authorities today confirmed the detention of four Shanghai-based employees of Anglo-Australian miner Rio Tinto on charges of stealing state secrets.

Foreign Ministry Spokesman Qin Gang said the actions against Stern Hu, general manager of Rio's China iron ore operations, and his three colleagues, are based on competent evidence held by authorities. Chinese-born Hu is an Australian passport holder.

Qin wouldn't elaborate on the state secrets but said they have hurt China's economic security. "This case shouldn't be politicized and used to harm the cooperation between China and Australia," Qin told a regular press briefing in Beijing.

Hu, and other three employees, all Chinese nationals identified by domestic media as Liu Caikui, Wang Yong and Ge Minqiang, were detained by Shanghai State Security Bureau on Sunday. Rio' Shanghai office mainly houses its sales and marketing team, doing business with Chinese steel customers. Hu is understood to be directly involved in the annual iron ore term price negations with domestic mills.


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