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Rio four spying trial this month

The trial of four Rio Tinto staff charged with commercial spying in China will begin on 22 March in a Shanghai court, Australia’s foreign affairs department said yesterday.

The four employees of the Anglo-Australian miner, including Australian citizen Stern Hu, have been in Chinese custody since July over accusations of illegally obtaining commercial secrets.

The case has caused tensions between Australia and China and placed a cloud over already contentious iron ore price negotiations between China and Rio, BHP Billiton and Brazil’s Vale.