Rio tells foreign staff to leave country as China vows to clean-up "chaotic" iron-ore business
Rio Tinto asked its foreign staff to leave China in the latest development between the mining giant and Beijing, which has held four of its employees for alleged espionage. The head of Rio's iron-ore operations, Sam Walsh, said the allegation that Rio staff had bribed officials at Chinese steel mills "are wholly without foundation".
Bribery, however, is par for the course in Chinese business negotiations. The China Daily, the country's state-controlled English newspaper, cited an industry insider on Wednesday saying that executives from all 16 Chinese steel mills participating in iron ore price talks this year have been bribed by Rio Tinto employees.
It also wrote that the government is considering invalidating 20 iron ore import licenses to regulate "the chaotic ore import business". The front page report is still available on the China Daily website, and suggests that China is planning to tackle the whole industry。
However it is uncertain which companies are to be involved in the case and analysts have expressed doubt that there will be much transparency in proceedings. Australian officials have said that China's handling of the case will be "watched and judged abroad".
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang dismissed Australian government statements as "noise" saying: "We absolutely oppose anyone stirring up this case or attempting to interfere in China's judicial independence," he said, adding that such actions wouldn't be "in Australia's interest."
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