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Australian mining giant Rio Tinto says Taiwan is part of 'Greater China'

Company and chairman have strong financial ties to China

(Rio Tinto photo)

(Rio Tinto photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — One of the world’s largest mining corporations, Rio Tinto, which has headquarters in Australia and the U.K., formally changed its designation of Taiwan in its regular revenue reports.

Revenues from Taiwanese clients will henceforth be reported as coming from “Greater China,” rather than the previous designation of “other Asian regions,” which excluded China and Japan.

The change was reported by the Australian Financial Review in an article with the headline “Rio Tinto reunifies China and Taiwan 26 years early.” The title is in reference to speculation that Beijing previously planned to annex Taiwan by the year 2050.

The Financial Review article reported that Rio Tinto receives more than 50% of its annual revenue from China. Furthermore, a Chinese state-owned mining business called Chinalco is Rio Tinto’s largest shareholder with just over 14% ownership.

Chinalco previously attempted to purchase a greater share of Rio Tinto during the 2008 financial crisis, but the deal was blocked by the Australian government, before it was dropped by Rio Tinto. Since then, China’s influence on the mining industry in Australia has been under increased scrutiny.

Currently, any Chinese stake of 15% or higher in the company is illegal according to the 2009 ruling of Australia’s Foreign Investment and Review Board.

Rio Tinto is one of the world’s primary suppliers of iron ore, bauxite, aluminum, diamonds and borates. In contrast to earnings from China and operations throughout Asia, recent reports from Rio Tinto do not indicate any business activity in Taiwan.

In early 2022, Dominic Barton was hired as the chairman of Rio Tinto. Barton previously served as global managing director of McKinsey and Co. from 2009 to 2018, before he was appointed as the Canadian Ambassador to China in 2019 by Justin Trudeau.