Today, in a newspaper distributed in Australia and known as the 'Daily Telegraph' Mr Greg Sheridan has an article entitled 'Stern response vital to future' . In it Sheridan refers to an interesting saga now playing out between an angry Chinese Government and Rio Tinto, which is a giant, mainly British-owned multinational natural-resource company that operates on 6 continents. It is the 4th largest publicly-listed mining company in the world.
Two weeks ago Mr Stern Hu, an executive of Rio Tinto who is also an Australian citizen, was detained by the Chinese Government and accused of "bribing officials from companies he was doing business with and engaging in illegal espionage."
The context for Mr Hu's detainment was that Rio Tinto had recently rejected a $25 billion bid for a 20% stake in Rio by the Chinese Government-owned Chinalco. The Chinese Government made it clear that it was "furious" about this rejection. China also missed out on its bid for a 40% cut in iron ore prices when customers from Japan and South Korea undermined China's position by accepting prices would fall by a lesser 33%.
What concerns me about the nature of the reporting on this issue in Australia's mainstream media is that the Australian reader is being misled about the true nature of these, and related, disputes. The conflict, it is pretended, is between China and Australia. But it's not. Australlian ownership levels in Rio Tinto are minimal at around 16%. By contrast 42% of Rio Tinto shareholders are in the UK and 18% of its equity is owned by Americans.
Although it's true that Mr Stern is an Australian citizen, his detainment alone does not justify the enormous amount of media coverage that his arrest is getting. Nor does it seem appropriate that our Prime Minister over-emphasise the economic stake that China has with its relationship with the Australian government; as he appears to do.
Alarmingly, Australia's mining resources (in general) are likely to be predominantly foreign-owned. ,  If this nation now fits the contemporary description for Canada: a "twenty-first century version of a tenant farmer", it's about time Australian citizens were told the truth by the major GLOBAL media companies.
 'Stern response vital to future by Greg Sheridan. The Sunday Telegraph. Page 100. 19th July 2009
 Foreign-owned major resource projects By Stephen Mayne. May 19, 2009
 Foreign government investments in Australia By Stephen Mayne. May 18, 2009