It’s now clear from reports in two leading American news organisations, that the claims about Rio Tinto steeling $US102 billion from China at the weekend were concocted.

Local and international media gave extensive publicity yesterday to the false claims that have embarrassed China.

Bloomberg and the New York Times dug deep. The author was apparently a “cadre” in the State Secrets Bureau. In other words, a party hack. It now seems he had no official imprimatur to write anything. This case is obviously being handled from the top of the State Secrets Bureau.

In fact, in a story on the registered part of its website, the NYT reported that the “article accusing Rio Tinto of engaging in commercial espionage has been removed from a Chinese Web site”.

That website is Baomi.org, a website run by the State Secrets Bureau. A story based on the article remains on the China Daily website this morning.

More interesting though was this report from Bloomberg which reveals someone from the news organisation actually tracked down the author of the report and spoke to him.

The author sounds a bit like a News Ltd journo, (a good Murdochian cadre) it’s a good piece of digging.

The author of an editorial linking Rio Tinto Group’s actions in China to 700 billion Yuan ($102 billion) in excess charges for the steel industry said the article was his own opinion and used previously published data.

Jiang Ruqin, an employee with the Jiangsu Province Administration for the Protection of State Secrets, said he has no involvement in a legal case against four Rio employees detained last month, and that no “leaders” assigned him to write the essay or reviewed the piece before publication.

“I just wanted to write the article because this situation’s impact is really big, it affects the country’s economic security,” Jiang said in a telephone interview from Nanjing, the capital of eastern China’s Jiangsu Province. We cadres who protect state secrets must speak up.

The New York Times said:

The author of the baomi.org article, Jiang Ruqin, is an official with the state secrets bureau. In an interview on Monday with the Bloomberg and Dow Jones news agencies, he said that he had not been assigned to write the article, but was expressing his own opinion. “I just wanted to write the article because this situation’s impact is really big,” he said. “It affects the country’s economic security.”

Mr. Jiang said his main accusation — that China’s steel industry was overcharged by about $100 billion as a result of spying by Rio Tinto — came from China Central Television, another propaganda arm of the Chinese government.

Dow Jones Newswires reported that an official at the propaganda department of the state secrets agency, the National Administration for the Protection of State Secrets, told it on Monday that the state secrets agency had not authorised anyone to release comments on the matter.

Peter Fray

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