China, which had arrested four Rio Tinto executives last Sunday on charges of espionage and stealing state secrets, (See: China arrests four Rio Tinto employees) for the first time made an official statement yesterday saying that it had "a vast amount of irrefutable evidence" against the four Rio Tinto executives.
Foreign ministry spokesperson Qin Gang said in an ambiguous statement that Chinese police have "a vast amount of irrefutable evidence," which proved that the Rio executives "pried and stole Chinese state secrets for overseas, gravely harming China's economic interests and economic security."
He also added that it was an "independent judicial case, which should not be gradually enlarged or politicised," and issued a veiled warning that doing so, "would be detrimental to Australia."
Rio said in a statement, "We have been advised by the Australian government of this surprising allegation, we are not aware of any evidence that would support such an investigation."
The China Securities Journal reported that the detained Rio Tinto executives stole state secrets related to the ongoing long-term iron ore settlement talks, which violated Chinese law as well as international business morality.
They are accused of bribing officials at Chinese steel companies, which seriously damaged the country's economic security and interest, the paper said.