Australia’s Palmer Apologizes to China for Mongrel Comments

Australian lawmaker Clive Palmer issued a written apology to China’s ambassador for insulting the nation after calling his Chinese business partners “mongrels” who want to take over the country’s resources.

The mining magnate-turned politician, who Prime Minister Tony Abbott must negotiate with to pass legislation, told Chinese Ambassador Ma Zhaoxu he regretted “any hurt or anguish” his comments may have caused. The letter was dated Aug. 25 and emailed today by Palmer’s office to media outlets.

Palmer’s comments on Australian Broadcasting Corp.’s Q&A television program on Aug. 18 were attacked by Abbott’s government, Australian business leaders and Chinese newspapers. 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.

Palmer also said on the program that the Chinese “are communists, they shoot their own people, they haven’t got a justice system and they want to take over this country.”

China is Australia’s largest trading partner, while Citic is Palmer’s partner in the world’s biggest magnetite iron ore mine in Western Australia.

Palmer, who was elected to the lower house in September, has three Senators representing his Palmer United Party in the upper house, effectively giving his party the balance of power. One of those Senators, who Palmer met this morning in Canberra as parliament resumes after a five-week break, is China-born Dio Wang.

“In keeping an open mind, I now come to the realization 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, that I am sorry that I said the things I said on the program,” Palmer said in the letter.

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