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Detained Rio Tinto executive in good health: Australian FM

AUSTRALIAN Foreign Minister Stephen Smith said in Canberra today that Australian Rio Tinto executive Stern Hu detained in China and accused of spying and stealing state secrets appears to be in good health.

Hu appeared well and raised no health or welfare issues during the consular meeting yesterday, Smith said in a statement issued today.

Four staff of the Anglo-Australian mining giant Rio Tinto Ltd. have been detained on charges of stealing China's state secrets, the Shanghai state security authorities said Thursday.

They included Stern Hu, general manager of the company's Shanghai office, who was also in charge of the iron ore business in China, according to the Shanghai municipal state security agency.

Smith said, Australian officials continue to seek further information from Chinese authorities about the circumstances surrounding Hu's detention.

He said Hu's family and his employer have been briefed on the consular visit.

Hu is accused of having "caused huge loss to China's national economic security and interests" and the Chinese government said it has sufficient evidence on hand.

Chinalco has said the detention of four Rio Tinto employees on spying charges is not related to its failed bid to invest in the company.

West Australian Premier Colin Barnett says the Australian government should have done more to establish a mature political and economic relationship with China, leading local newspaper Australian reported today.

Barnett said amid rethinks and worries that relationship with China has been partly damaged. Australian analysts urge that the government should never ignore China in any decision making and that profound and comprehensive diplomatic and economic strategies are in dire need as for the future relationship with China.


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