Spotlight: The Rio Tinto Scandal

Tony Ashby / AFP / Getty

Rio Tinto, based in Melbourne and London, is the world's second largest iron-ore exporter.

In any other country, with any other company, at any other time, it might be considered a routine case of corporate espionage. But the arrests earlier this month of four employees of the mining giant Rio Tinto have thrown relations between China and Australia into an uproar and cast a dangerous chill on China's foreign business partners. On July 5, the Shanghai State Security Bureau arrested Rio Tinto executive Stern Hu, a Chinese-born Australian, and three Chinese employees on suspicion of stealing state secrets. While China's murky criminal-justice system makes it difficult to unearth any specifics of the charges, the state-run...

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