China frees ex-Rio Tinto executive jailed on corruption charges in 2010

Four Rio Tinto officials were convicted of stealing commercial secrets that helped Rio in iron ore negotiations with Chinese mills. (Reuters)
Updated 04 July 2018

China frees ex-Rio Tinto executive jailed on corruption charges in 2010

BEIJING/MELBOURNE: Stern Hu, the former head of Rio Tinto’s China iron ore business, has been released from a Shanghai prison, China’s foreign ministry said on Wednesday, after serving eight years in jail following a 2010 conviction for corruption and stealing commercial secrets.
Hu, an Australian citizen, was originally sentenced to 10 years in jail as tension flared between China, the world’s top user of iron ore, and its biggest supplier, Australia. Fired by Rio in the aftermath, Hu is expected to return to Australia just as relations between the two countries cool to a fresh chill.
Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang told a daily news briefing in Beijing that Hu had been released on Wednesday. Lu said that Hu had had his sentence reduced in accordance with the law, without saying where Hu currently was nor when he might return to Australia.
Canberra passed new laws aimed at curbing foreign interference in Australia last week, after Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull blamed China for meddling in domestic affairs last year. China denies meddling and says Australia has a “Cold War mentality.”
The relationship between the two countries could deteriorate further if Australia bans Chinese telecommunications equipment maker Huawei Technologies Co. from participating in a soon-to-be-built 5G broadband network.
Hu was one of four defendants arrested by China and subsequently fired by Rio. The global miner conducted an internal audit but did not find any wrongdoing by the company itself.
The four were convicted of accepting bribes in return for helping private Chinese mills secure access to relatively low-cost and stable term iron ore from Rio. They were also convicted of stealing commercial secrets that helped Rio in iron ore negotiations with Chinese mills, in proceedings that were closed to media and Australian diplomats.
Hu’s sentencing raised questions in Australia at the time about China’s judicial process and business practices in the iron ore industry. “Stern Hu’s arrest and the conduct of the trial was certainly the first big event that led people to focus on the difficulties of greater economic integration with China,” said Malcolm Cook, non-resident fellow at Australian think tank Lowy Institute.


White House says Trump regrets not raising tariffs higher

US President Donald Trump arrives at the G7 summit in Biarritz, France, on Sunday. Trump had been trying to use the conference to rally global leaders to do more to stimulate their economies, as fears rise of a potential slowdown in the US ahead of his reelection. (AP)
Updated 3 min 43 sec ago

White House says Trump regrets not raising tariffs higher

  • President’s comments appear at first to mark a rare moment of self-reflection by the US leader

TOKYO: President Donald Trump said Sunday that he had second thoughts about escalating the trade war with China, but the White House later reversed that message saying the president was misinterpreted and that his only regret in hiking tariffs is that he didn’t raise them higher. Trump faced a tense reception from world leaders meeting amid mounting anxiety of a global economic slowdown at the Group of Seven summit in France. During a breakfast meeting with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Trump suggested he had qualms about the spiraling conflict. “Yeah. For sure,” Trump told reporters when asked if he has second thoughts about escalating the dispute, adding he has “second thoughts about everything.”
But hours later, White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham issued a statement saying Trump’s comments about US tariffs on China were “greatly misinterpreted.”
She said Trump only responded “in the affirmative — because he regrets not raising the tariffs higher.” The comments appeared at first to mark a rare moment of self-reflection by the famously hard-nosed leader. But the later reversal fit a pattern for Trump in recoiling from statements he believes suggest weakness.

HIGHLIGHTS

• President Donald Trump faced a tense reception from world leaders meeting amid mounting anxiety of a global economic slowdown at the Group of Seven summit in France.

• White House said comments about US tariffs on China were ‘greatly misinterpreted.’

Trump had been trying to use the conference to rally global leaders to do more to stimulate their economies, as fears rise of a potential slowdown in the US ahead of his reelection. Trump’s counterparts, including Johnson, are trying to convince him to back off his trade wars with China and other countries, which they see as contributing to the economic weakening.

US-Japan agreement
Trump and Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced on Sunday a deal in principle on a major bilateral trade deal.
“It’s a very big transaction,” Trump said after talks with Abe on the sidelines of the G7 summit.
“Billions and billions of dollars,” he said. “It involves agriculture, it involves e-commerce. It involves many things. We’ve agreed in principle.”

Amazon fires
Also on Sunday, French President Emmanuel Macron said that world leaders at the G7 summit have agreed to help the countries affected by the huge wildfires ravaging the Amazon rainforest as soon as possible.
“We are all agreed on helping those countries which have been hit by the fires as fast as possible,” he told journalists.