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Foreign Minister briefed by Chinese officials -

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Foreign Minister briefed by Chinese officials on Stern Hu

David Weber reported this story on Friday, July 10, 2009 12:20:27

PETER CAVE: Australia's Foreign Minister Stephen Smith has been briefed by consular officials.

He's been speaking to reporters in Perth. Among them was our reporter David Weber.

David what's he been saying?

DAVID WEBER: Well Peter, Mr Smith said that later today consular officials are expected to visit
Stern Hu to satisfy themselves as to his wellbeing and then they'll tell his family and his
employer as to what's going on regarding his health and how he's going.

Mr Smith said he may not be able to say much about that when it happens, or after it happens, until
later today or maybe tomorrow. He said the Chinese officials in Canberra have told Australian
officials that he's being treated well and in accordance with Chinese law.

Now Australian officials have been trying to get more information about the claims against Stern
Hu. Mr Smith quoted from Chinese media saying that, quote, "He stole state secrets, damaging
China's economic interests."

And Mr Smith went on to say it's obvious that the Chinese authorities take a broader view of what
state secrets might be and it was difficult in Australia to see a relationship between espionage or
state security with this economic interest that's being referred to.

Now Mr Smith also took a swipe at the Opposition for suggesting that nothing had been done for
several days in relation to Stern Hu and that first time efforts were made on a consular level were
only recently.

Mr Smith said that that's not true and the Opposition knows that; and he said this is not an
occasion for domestic political points to be made.

Now here's some of what Mr Smith had to say.

STEPHEN SMITH: Chinese officials in Canberra yesterday assured Australian officials that Mr Hu had
been treated well and in accordance with appropriate procedures and in accordance with Chinese law.

As you know Australia has a consular agreement with China and the consular visit today is taking
place in accordance with that consular agreement which was entered into with China in September

Last night on an official Chinese Government website a statement was posted, and I read in part
from that statement.

"As understood from the Shanghai State Security Bureau, during China's iron ore negotiation with
foreign miners in 2009 Stern Hu gathered and stole state secrets from China via illegal means,
including bribing internal staff of Chinese steel companies. This has caused huge loss to China's
national economic security and interests."

The National Security Authority is conducting a criminal investigation on Stern Hu and the other
three staff.

China has its own laws about state secrets. They are clearly broader than the view that Australia
might take. Frankly it's difficult for a nation like Australia to see a relationship between
espionage or national security and what appear to be suggestions about commercial or economic

Having said that Mr Hu of course now, as I say, runs the risk of being subject to Chinese criminal,
legal and judicial processes.

PETER CAVE: The Foreign Minister Stephen Smith speaking to reporters in Perth. Amongst them our
reporter David Weber.