SYDNEY — Chinese mining interests in Australia are being held back because they believe they must pay bribes to get what they want, according to a former senator quoted in emails released by WikiLeaks.
The private email is one of a huge number from the US-based global intelligence company Stratfor that the whistleblowing organisation began publishing Monday.
The assessment, titled "Insight -- China/mining", said that Chinese firms were unable to overcome a corruption mindset when doing business Down Under.
"Where foreign companies do get access to tenements, they always seem to lose out because the mining sector in China is one of the most corrupt sectors of all," the unnamed former senator reportedly said.
The email is dated mid-2010, just months after Australian mining executive Stern Hu was jailed for 10 years in China after a Shanghai court convicted him of taking kickbacks worth millions of dollars from Chinese steel firms and stealing corporate secrets during 2009 iron ore talks.
The incident damaged ties with Beijing, Australia's biggest trading partner and a major investor in its vital resources sector.
In the email, the senator said corruption was widespread in China.
"Ironically, this corruption is one of the impediments to Chinese interests not having accumulated even greater stakes in the resources sector in Australia," he reportedly said.
"They simply cannot get it in their heads that the rule of law applies to mining projects in Australia.
"They refuse to believe that they have a right to receive a mining lease subject only to complying with relevant environmental permitting conditions.
"They think you have no credibility unless you tell them they need to bribe someone!!!"
The email did not name the former senator but said he was "well-connected politically, militarily and economically" and now worked in private industry helping foreign companies with mergers and acquisitions.
WikiLeaks on Monday began publishing a huge tranche of emails from Stratfor dating from July 2004 to December 2011 in a move the anti-secrecy website said revealed the "private lies of private spies."
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