China and Rio Tinto case

China on Tuesday voiced its "serious concerns" after criticism of Australian authorities on trial in Shanghai for four employees of Rio Tinto sentenced to prison.

Australia PM deplored no transparency of trial

"We express our serious concerns about Australia's remarks," said Qin Gang, spokesman of Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, during a press briefing. "The Australian side should respect the outcome (trial) and stop making such irresponsible remarks," he added. Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd was interviewed Tuesday on how the trial of four employees of Rio Tinto, held from March 22 to 24, had been conducted by Chinese courts.

He deplored that a part of the trial, devoted to charges of espionage, will be held in camera, "in secret, in the absence of media and Australian officials. "It was thus left important questions unanswered about the charge," Mr Rudd told reporters. "In deciding the camera part, China has, in my opinion, missed an opportunity to demonstrate a high level of transparency that should accompany its emergence as a global player," said Rudd.

The Australian Stern Hu, a former bureau chief of Rio Tinto in Shanghai, was sentenced Monday to ten years in prison for corruption and theft of trade secrets. The three Chinese employees of mining giant Anglo-Australian, Wang Yong, Liu Ge Minqiang and Caikui, convicted of the same leaders, were sentenced respectively four, eight and seven years in prison by a Shanghai court. Monday, after announcing the decision that he described as "severe", the Foreign Minister Stephen Smith Australian had already regretted the camera.

No negative impact on sino-australion relationship

The Foreign Minister had, however, felt that the Chinese court should not have "negative repercussions for bilateral relations with China." "We continue to maintain relationships not only economic, but more broadly with China," he stressed. Economically, a few days before the trial, Rio Tinto and the Chinese group Chinalco signed an agreement to collaborate on a project in Guinea, one of the largest reserves of iron in the world.

A year earlier Chinalco - Rio Tinto shareholder - had failed to recapitalize the mining giant, which had strained relations between the two groups, just weeks before the arrest in Shanghai Stern Hu et al.

What Chinese citizens and foreign corporation might expect

Recently the Google threat to withdraw from China has raised concerns about the foreign long term commitment to the presence in mainland China. Oversea, this case has raised worries and people not familiar with the Chinese became more leery against the chinese government. That should not be the case, savvy expats should know that Chinese are pragmatic people and always resort to win-win deals, it is in their roots.

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