August 21, 2009

Rio Tinto execs pledge to respect China

Rio Tinto executives pledged to respect China's legal system as the commercial espionage case against four staff members proceeds.

I am naturally personally concerned about them, but I want to stress that we will respect the Chinese legal process, Rio Tinto Chairman Jan du Plessis said.

Four staff members were arrested July 5 on charges of stealing state secrets, but the charges have been downgraded considerably to commercial espionage.

We do welcome the fact that the grounds for their arrests do not seem to be as serious as early reports had suggested, Chief Executive Officer Tom Albanese said in London.

From a more personal perspective, I am committed to building our relationship with China, the Chinese news agency Xinhua Friday quoted Albanese as saying.

Relations between the British-Australian mining firm and China have been strained since a $19.5 billion deal with Aluminum Corporation of China fell through in early June, Xinhua said.