China mulls security rethink over Rio Tinto espionage row

CHINA has accused mining giant Rio Tino of a prolonged period of espionage against its steel industry, which it says allowed the Anglo-Australian firm to overcharge by 700bn yuan (&pound;61.2bn) for iron ore.<br /><br />The official magazine of China&rsquo;s National Administration for the Protection of State Secrets (NAPSS) said in an editorial that Beijing would need to rethink its state secrets procedure as part of an investigation which has seen four Rio employees imprisoned.<br /><br />The quartet are accused of using bribes to obtain information about iron ore price negotiations over a period of six years.<br /><br />The NAPSS said the espionage had cost the country 700bn yuan and warned that China should increase security barriers around confidential information.<br /><br />Rio&rsquo;s head of sales and marketing in China Stern Hu was arrested on 4 July along with three of his staff, but the miner said it was not aware of any evidence supporting the allegations against them.<br /><br />The NAPSS said the case should spark the introduction of firmer guidelines for companies and government departments on guarding data, adding that there should be a new rulebook for the supervision and registration of foreign companies.