A commenter on this ABC News story about PM Rudd's presumed inaction when it comes to pressuring China to handover Rio Tinto executive Stern Hu, who they accuse of espionage, spying, takes a plausible theory on what might have happened out for a run :
It's an interesting game that people are playingWhile Stern Hu may be, and hopefully is, innocent, and will be allowed to return to Australia, corporate and industrial spying and espionage runs rampant across the global business world.
Hu buys a state secret from someone - the secret? that's easy: the Chinese position on where commodity prices are going (ie Up)
Hu passes that secret information to his RIO bosses and consequently RIO does not need to negotiate on lower prices
Then China anounces prices for the next year hooray.
But because of Hu's actions China has been damaged financially.
But consider that there are games within games. Maybe Hu was allowed to buy the state secrets from someone allowed to sell them (either overtly or covertly).
Now we have China sitting in a pretty position - it has secured a hedge against dropping prices. With no financial outlay for doing so.
If prices drop then RIO (who acted on insider information by not acting in the absence of that info) could be sued by the Chinese and Australia would have to step in and back RIO. And of course if anyone ends up out of pocket it will be the Australian tax payer.
It's a brilliant game.
Of course it does.
If Rio Tinto has never knowingly engaged in such activities, however many levels removed from the executives so plausible deniability can be maintained, they've been putting themselves at a distinct corporate disadvantage, because most, if not all, of their minor and major international competitors engage in such activitites, to some extent, as simply a way of doing business. An acceptable, if not expected, way of doing business.