Detained Rio Tinto Employees Formally Arrested in China
These charges were less serious than general assumptions prior to the arrests that the four would be charged with stealing state secrets. Nevertheless, if found guilty, the four could face jail sentences of four to seven years.
The Rio Tinto statement also noted that the company is continuing its business operations in China, including the maintenance of high levels of iron ore shipments from Australia. In a separate statement, China’s Vice Minister of Commerce Fu Ziying said the Rio Tinto case will not and should not hurt trade and economic ties between China and Australia.
Those arrested were Stern Hu, an Australian citizen who headed Rio Tinto’s Shanghai office and who is originally from China, and Chinese citizens Liu Caikui, Ge Minqiang and Wang Yong.