Australian politician Clive Palmer apologises over comments referring to Chinese 'mongrels'

His apology comes a week after his appearance on Australia's ABC network

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Australian politician Clive Palmer has apologised after he launched a tirade on national television in which he referred to Chinese people “mongrels” and accused Beijing of attempting to take over Australia.

Following the outburst on 18 August, government ministers distanced themselves from the mining magnate’s views and accused him of threatening Australia’s relationship with China, which is its biggest trading partner. 

Palmer made the comments on Australian Broadcasting Corp.'s Q & A program. The 60-year-old had been asked about a legal dispute between his mining company Mineralogy and its Chinese state-owned partner, CITIC Pacific Mining after the latter alleged in court that Palmer had syphoned 12 million Australian dollars (£6,745,331) to fund his party's election campaign. 

Palmer said his companies were owed “about AU$500 million by the communist Chinese government that doesn't want to pay", and added that he is countersuing.

“I don't mind standing up against the Chinese bastards and stopping them from doing it,” Palmer said.

He said his companies already had three federal and supreme court judgments “against these Chinese mongrels.”

“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,” Palmer continued.

He later tweeted that his comments were “not intended to refer to Chinese people but to [a] Chinese company which is taking Australian resources & not paying.”

The Chinese Embassy responded by issuing a statement describing Palmer's comments as “absurd,” “irresponsible” and “full of ignorance and prejudice.”

Over a week after the incident, Mr Palmer tweeted a link to a letter of apology dated 25 August, addressed to China’s ambassador to Australia Ma Zhaoxu.

“I most sincerely apologize for any insult to Chinese people caused by any of the language I used,” Palmer wrote in the letter.

“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,” the letter said.

But Palmer United Party Senator Jacqi Lambie controversially backed her leader's words, and urged Australia to invest in missiles to prevent Australian grandchildren from becoming “slaves” to a “Chinese communist invasion.”

The embassy said it received Palmer's letter of apology on Tuesday and issued another statement.

“Palmer's insulting remarks on China could by no means represent the Australian government and parliament, let alone its people,” Tuesday's statement said.

 “Ambassador Ma stressed that the Chinese people are never to be insulted. Any remarks attacking or slandering China would not gain support and were doomed to failure.”

“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,” the statement added.

Additional reporting by AP