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An Australian executive from Rio Tinto, one of the world’s biggest mining companies, is being held by Chinese officials on suspicion of stealing state secrets and could be charged with espionage, an Australian government official said Wednesday
Mr. Smith said he did not believe that the case was related to commercial matters, or to Rio Tinto’s decision last month to scrap a planned $19.5 billion investment in the mining company by Chinalco, a state-owned Chinese company
But analysts called the timing of the case peculiar
The scrapped Chinalco-Rio Tinto deal, which would have effectively expanded Chinalco’s stake in Rio to 18.5 percent from 9.3 percent, drew stiff political opposition in Australia, where mineral riches have fueled prosperity and some residents have begun to fear China’s regional power."
Last April, Australian newspaper articles said Chinese intelligence agents tried to hack into Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s phone and e-mail when he was in Beijing for the Olympics in August