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Australia presses China for details on detainee

Australia presses China for details on detainee

Australia has called in the Chinese ambassador for the third time in a week to press for details on an Australian detained in China and accused of espionage, the foreign minister said Tuesday.
The government asked the ambassador Monday for information about why Stern Hu was detained and urged China to immediately deal with the case, Foreign Minister Stephen Smith said.
Hu is one of four Rio Tinto Ltd. employees who were detained July 5 during iron ore price talks. They are accused of bribing Chinese steel company personnel to obtain confidential information on China's negotiating position in the talks, according to state media reports.
"We have again pressed Chinese officials yesterday to do two things: firstly to provide us with more detailed information about the circumstances relating to Mr. Hu's detention, and secondly, to urge them that this is a matter that needs to be dealt with expeditiously," Smith told Australian Broadcasting Corp. radio.
He said the message was delivered to the ambassador in Canberra, Australia's capital, as well as to officials in Beijing.
But he said no answers have been forthcoming from Chinese officials besides an assurance that Hu would be treated well while in detention.
"This is a difficult and complex case, it requires constant attention, which is what we're giving it," Smith said.
But the opposition counters that the government of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has not put enough pressure on China.
Rudd, a former diplomat to Beijing who is fluent in Mandarin Chinese, has not spoken directly to his counterpart in China about Hu's case.
"The Australian prime minister should pick up the phone, he should stand up for Australia and for an Australian citizen in distress," opposition leader Malcolm Turnbull told reporters in Sydney.
Hu works in Shanghai and manages Rio's Chinese iron ore business. It is unclear what role he played in the price talks.
The employees were detained as Rio, the world's third-largest mining company, was acting as lead negotiator for global iron ore producers in talks with Chinese mills on the price for annual supply contracts.


Updated : 2021-10-22 16:57 GMT+08:00