China has published guidelines as to what constitutes a commercial secret following criticism of its opaque definition of the term during the recent trial of Rio Tinto (RIO.NYSE, RIO.LSE, RIO.ASX) executives, the Wall Street Journal reported. The State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission put out a notice instructing companies to "attach great importance to the protection of commercial secrets." The notice defines as a secret virtually anything that hasn’t been publicly disclosed and could hold economic value to a company. This includes information relating to financial status, strategic plans, technology, mergers, procurement and restructuring. The new parameters – announced Monday but dated March 25, the day after the Rio Tinto trial ended – are so wide-ranging and vague that they may offer little in terms of clarification. The four executives were convicted of receiving bribes and stealing commercial secrets. The judge said the secrets primarily involved how much Chinese steel mills were willing to pay for iron ore.
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