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Is China Holding Out an Olive Branch to RTP?

China formally "arrested" the four RTP executives it had detained earlier by charging them. But the charge was "bribery" which is less serious than "espionage." In other words, they're being accused of paying Chinese partners for "secrets" but not exactly stealing them.

This is a subtle, but fairly clear, signal that the country won't be taking a maximally hard line. Clearly, China is displeased with RTP. But China is also troubled by the role of RTP's Chinese partners, whom China blames implicitly, if not explicitly. That, at least, lessens the guilt of the "foreigners" somewhat.

This thing will probably drag on for some time. A quick resolution might seem, to the Chinese at least, to be too easy a solution. The four arrested executives, and their higher ups in the company and even Australian government, are shaking in their boots as China probably intends. They could still get hurt, although the resolution of recent other "espionage" incidents, e.g. in North Korea, suggest that they probably won't be. In the end, it will probably be a bad scare, with China having fired a warning shot across the bow of foreign companies who dare to mess with its "internal" affairs.