Australian mining magnate turned populist politician Clive Palmer has apologised to China over an extraordinary tirade on television in which he called the Chinese “b*****ds” and “mongrels” and accused Beijing of trying to take over his country.
Following the multi-millionaire’s 18 August outburst on ABC television’s Q&A programme, government ministers accused him of threatening Australia’s relationship with its biggest trading partner and distanced themselves from his views.
Mr Palmer, 60, has largely avoided commenting on the issue. But yesterday the politician – who was elected to parliament last September from his own Palmer United Party – released the text of an apology letter sent to China’s ambassador to Australia, Ma Zhaoxu.
In the letter, dated 25 August, he wrote: “I most sincerely apologise for any insult to Chinese people caused by any of the language I used.
“In keeping an open mind, I now come to the realisation that what I said on Q&A was an insult to Chinese people everywhere and I wish to assure them they have my most genuine and sincere apology.”
The tirade began when Mr Palmer was questioned about a legal dispute between his mining company, Mineralogy, and its Chinese state-owned partner, CITIC Pacific Mining.
CITIC claimed in court that Mr Palmer siphoned A$12 million (about £6.75m) from the partnership, in part to fund his party’s election campaign.
Mr Palmer said his companies were owed “about $500m by the Communist Chinese government that doesn’t want to pay”.
He said he was counter-suing.
“I don’t mind standing up against the Chinese b*****ds and stopping them from doing it,” Mr Palmer said. He added that his companies already had three court judgments “against these Chinese mongrels”.
He told the TV programme: “I’m saying this because they’re Communist, they shoot their own people, they haven’t got a justice system and they want to take over this country, and we’re not going to let them do it.”
He later said on his Twitter account that his comments were “not intended to refer to Chinese people but to [a] Chinese company which is taking Australian resources & not paying”.
Following the tirade, the Chinese embassy issued a statement describing his comments as “absurd”, “irresponsible” and “full of ignorance and prejudice”.
But Palmer United Party senator Jacqi Lambie, 43, backed her leader’s words. She urged Australia to invest in missiles to prevent Australian grandchildren from becoming “slaves” to a “Chinese Communist invasion”.
The embassy said it received Mr Palmer’s letter yesterday.
In a statement it said: “Palmer’s insulting remarks on China could by no means represent the Australian government and parliament, let alone its people.
“The healthy and stable development of China-Australia relations is in the fundamental interests of the two countries and peoples, and cannot be overturned by any individual.”