Clive Palmer, the Australian mining magnate-turned politician who this week labeled his Chinese business partners “mongrels,” attacked the response by state-owned media and said he didn’t intend to insult the nation.
The Global Times newspaper hit out at Palmer and called for sanctions against him and his companies after he accused China of trying to take over Australia’s resources.
The newspaper’s claims were incredible and put “into perspective the level of China’s strict communist rule,” Palmer, whose nascent political party effectively holds the balance of power in Australia’s Senate, said in a statement. “It is an extraordinary reaction to my television comments, which were in no way directed at the Chinese people or the Chinese government.”
Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s government and business leaders rounded on Palmer earlier this week, saying his comments risked undermining Australia’s relations with its biggest trading partner. The millionaire is embroiled in a long-running legal dispute with Citic Pacific Ltd., which has alleged he used funds from a joint account to help finance his political campaign.
Appearing on the Australian Broadcasting Corp.’s Q&A television show on Aug. 18, Palmer denied Citic’s allegations, calling them “Chinese mongrels.”
“I’m saying that because they are communists, they shoot their own people, they haven’t got a justice system and they want to take over this country,” Palmer said.
In the statement today, Palmer said his comments were directed solely at Citic, his partner in the world’s biggest magnetite iron ore mine in Western Australia.
“It is a disagreement I have with Citic Pacific alone, not the Chinese people or the government,” he said. “I have high regard for all Chinese people having spent much of my life working with them. I deeply regret if any of my comments have caused offense to any person.”