China backtracks on new Rio claims

CHINESE officials yesterday distanced themselves from an earlier report claiming miner Rio Tinto had been engaged in &ldquo;commercial espionage&rdquo; against China&rsquo;s steel mills for six years.<br /><br />A website with links to China&rsquo;s State Secrets Bureau had said at the weekend that Rio had been spying Chinese businesses as well as inflating iron ore prices which had cost the country 700bn yuan (&pound;61.2bn).<br /><br />The website said the case involved &ldquo;corruption, information gathering and spying.&rdquo; The government often uses state media to release information, but it is unclear whether this report is officially sanctioned.<br /><br />China arrested four Rio Tinto workers last month, accusing them of spying, a claim which Rio denies.