Stern Hu
Born Hu Shitai
Tianjin, China
Residence Shanghai, China
Nationality Template:AUS
Other names 胡士泰
Alma mater Peking University
Employer formerly Rio Tinto
Known for Australian iron ore enterprise businessman jailed for stealing commercial secrets and receiving bribes
Title Chief Representative in Shanghai, Hamersley Iron Chinese Regional Manager
Spouse(s) Julie Hu

Stern Hu (Chinese: 胡士泰; pinyin: Hú Shìtài; born 1963, in Tianjin) is an Australian businessman of Chinese origin. He was formerly an executive of Rio Tinto mining group in Shanghai, China prior to his trial.[1] He graduated from Peking University before obtaining Australian citizenship in 1994.[2]

Arrest in China[edit | edit source]

Hu was detained on 5 July 2009 with three other Chinese colleagues by the Chinese government.[3] After pleading guilty, on 29 March 2010 he was sentenced to 10 years' jail by a Chinese court for stealing commercial secrets and receiving bribes.[4]

The issue has made a heavy impact in both China and Australia, making front-page appearances in most major media across the two nations.[5] Information found stored on Hu’s personal laptop, seized by investigators, allegedly contains confidential business information of several dozen major business partners of Rio Tinto, including storage levels and sales plans, deemed much too specific and precise to have been acquired through legal means,[6] but rather through bribery,[7] where access to such information is limited even to employees within these companies. Hu is thus accused of having obtained such information through bribery and other illegal means, for massive corporate and personal benefits.[6]

The Australian government called in the Chinese Ambassador to Australia to discuss the situation, with Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, a former diplomat to China, under pressure to intervene on the issue on a higher profile.[8] Rudd refused to intervene on a personal level, and criticised the media and the opposition party for adding political bias to the issue. Nevertheless, Australian authorities were granted access to the arrested businessman. After the visit, Foreign Minister Stephen Smith declared that Hu is in good health.

His arrest came a month after Rio Tinto rejected Chinese aluminium firm Chinalco's bid to double its stake in the miner to 18 per cent. However, Chinalco has denied any linkages between the two events.[9]

Trial[edit | edit source]

Following the trial, Stern Hu was sentenced to 10 years jail.[10] Hu and other convicted executives have also had their employment terminated by Rio Tinto Ltd.[1] It is reported that the motive behind the terminations is in regards to a breach of conduct, with Rio Tinto accepting the evidence provided showing instances of bribery. Rio Tinto also states that the trial will not affect business ties, according to its chief executive.[11]

Official PRC government reactions[edit | edit source]

Foreign affair spokesperson Qin Gang[edit | edit source]

On 15 July 2009 Chinese official foreign affair spokesperson Qin Gang, when Qin Gang was referring to Australia's Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's reaction towards the alleged Spy case, in which Kevin Rudd warned the Chinese government of possible economic consequences:

I've noticed that in Australia recently some people have been making noise about this case....This is an interference in China's judicial sovereignty.

It cannot change the objective facts nor can it have influence on the relevant Chinese authorities which are dealing with the case according to our law

We're firmly opposed to anyone deliberately stirring up this matter....This is not in accordance with the interests of the Australian side.[12]

NAPSS (Jiangsu Province) official Jiang Ruqin[edit | edit source]

Jiang Ruqin(蒋汝勤)(chief of the Secret Protection Bureau of Huai'an city, Jiangsu Province) ran an essay on China Secrecy On-Line, a Chinese-language Web site affiliated with the National Administration for Protection of State Secrets, or NAPSS,over the weekend (8 August 2008) that said Rio employees had engaged in deceit over six years that had led to Chinese steel mills overpaying for iron ore by CNY700 billion, or US$102 billion.[13] But other NAPSS official stated:

NAPSS didn't authorize anyone to release comments (on the Rio case)...We can't say his essay represents views of the administration...It is his own essay...[14]

Jiang Ruqin wrote:

The large amount of intelligence and data from our country's steel sector found on Rio Tinto's computers and the massive damage to our national economic security and interests are plainly obvious...[15][16]

Rio Tinto's Media Release[edit | edit source]

Shanghai employees - Update 2 11 August 2009

Sam Walsh chief executive iron ore acknowledged the second visit to detained Rio Tinto employee, Stern Hu, by Australian Consular officials.

Mr Walsh said, "We are pleased to hear that Stern appeared well and that he raised no welfare or medical concerns.

Mr Walsh said the company remained surprised and concerned over the detention of its four employees, and said the company had still not been informed of any charges against them.

He said, "We are still not aware of any evidence that would support their detention. Rio Tinto is committed to high standards in business integrity and takes its ethical responsibilities very seriously."

"We continue to be concerned for the health and welfare of our three other employees detained at the same time as Stern Hu," he said.

Mr Walsh thanked the Australian Government for the attention it is giving to this case and to Stern Hu's welfare.

Australian media reactions[edit | edit source]

Australian Broadcasting Corporation[edit | edit source]

On 14 July 2009 Leigh Sales of the ABC, during the popular TV program Lateline interviewed two Australia's leading international-relations expert- Professor Hugh White, of the Australian National University, and Dr.Paul Monk, of Austhink Consulting, in which Hugh White said:

Well, I think we are facing something very important here - that is that we are starting to work in a world in which very big and powerful states are governed in a way very different from ourselves. We have been a very lucky country. For a long time we have lived in a world where the rules are set by our big and powerful friends. We are now moving into a world in which, Australia in particular and for the world in general, very powerful countries like China, immensely influential in the international system and the global economy, are governed in very different ways.

Paul Monk:

It's not unusual for the simple reason that the Chinese Government is one of the most secretive in the world. There is no free press over there. Anybody who tries to get this kind of information can be charged with stealing state secrets, just as Stern Hu has been. This is the kind of thing I'm pointing to. It's - this is not a Chinese way of governing, let me emphasise. This is an arbitrary party-rule problem that we are talking about.

It's odd, let me say in the context of the bilateral relationship, that the Chinese Government is not choosing to talk candidly with the Australian Government about this. If it has a problem with what Mr Hu did, and values the relationship, I would have expected that they'd go to our officials and say, ‘Look, we are concerned about this, this could be a problem’. That they are not doing that reeks of bad faith.


The Australian[edit | edit source]

On 11 July 2009 Jennifer Hewett, National affairs correspondent of The Australian reported:

This is an arrow shot into the heart of Australia's most vital trading relationship. It rips open the usual diplomatic cover of a polite and mutually beneficial political and economic relationship between the two countries.[18]

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 AAP, 29 March 2010, Rio Tinto fires Hu, other jailed execs, Yahoo!7 News
  2. Matt O'Sullivan (11 July 2009) "Stern Hu 'thrown to the wolves' ", The Sydney Morning Herald
  3. Foreign Minister Media Release-Mr Stern Hu, Australian Department of Foreign Affairs, 9 July 2009
  4. John Garnaut & Sanghee Liu (29 March 2010) "Stern sentenced to 10 years by Chinese court ", The Age, Retrieved 29 March 2010
  5. Chinese Sina News
  6. 6.0 6.1 Chinese Sina News 14 July 2009
  7. Zhang Qi & Tong Hao (15 July 2009) "'Bribery is widespread' in Rio case ", China Daily
  8. Rachel Pannett & Alex Wilson (14 July 2009) "Australia Presses China Diplomat on Worker Held ", Wall Street Journal
  9. AAP (11 July 2009) "Stern Hu in good health ", The Sydney Morning Herald
  10. AAP, 29 March 2010, Hu given 'tough sentence', says Smith, Yahoo!7 News
  11. AAP, 29 March 2010, China bond won't be broken: Rio Tinto Yahoo!7 News
  12. John Garnaut in Beijing and Phillip Coorey (16 July 2009). "Butt out: China's hard line to Rudd". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 2009-08-11. 
  13. "力拓间谍活动6年 中国损失7000亿" (in Zh-hans). 新浪网. 2009年08月10日. Retrieved 2009年08月11日. 
  14. "蒋汝勤:力拓案让中国损失7000亿属个人观点" (in Zh-hans). 新浪网. 2009年08月10日. Retrieved 2009年08月11日. 
  15. "China Secrecy Officials Step Back From Rio Essay". Dow Jones News GmbH. Alle Rechte vorbehalten.. 10 August 2009. Retrieved 2009-08-11. 
  16. "力拓案件折射出什么?" (in Zh-hans). 新浪网. 2009年08月10日. Retrieved 2009年08月11日. 
  17. Leigh Sales (14 July 2009). "Experts discuss China's rise Lateline Transcript". ABC. Retrieved 2009-08-11. 
  18. Jennifer Hewett (11 July 2009). "Diplomatic state of insecurity". The Australian.,25197,25762495-28737,00.html. Retrieved 2009-08-11. [dead link]

External links[edit | edit source]

vi:Stern Hu zh:胡士泰

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