Mining magnate and federal MP Clive Palmer maintains his televised anti-China tirade was directed at the “communist government”, not its people.
Clive Palmer remains defiant after his anti-China spray, even as the chorus of condemnation from Canberra to Beijing grows louder.
The federal MP brushed off his critics again on Wednesday, insisting his televised tirade on Monday was directed at a Chinese company he’s fighting in court, not the Chinese government or people.
Mr Palmer’s statement on Wednesday, however, contradicted his earlier twitter comment in which he said “We’re not talking about Chinese people we’re talking about the Chinese communist government who are suppressing their people.”
Whatever stance he’s taking, China’s media has responded vigorously to his sensational claim the Chinese government were “mongrels” and “bastards” who shoot their own people.
The state-owned Global Times newspaper rebuked Mr Palmer for his “rampant rascality” in an editorial calling for all ties to be severed with his companies, as well as any Australian businesses that deal with them.
“China must let those prancing provocateurs know how much of a price they pay when they deliberately rile us,” the English-language tabloid railed.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott also weighed in on Wednesday, labelling the Queensland MP’s comments “over the top, shrill and wrong”.
Mr Palmer’s predicament has not been helped by his outspoken Palmer United Party senator Jacqui Lambie, who declared her boss was right to highlight the threat of a “Chinese communist invasion”.
Mr Palmer bristled on Wednesday when asked about her remarks and eventually hung up on an interviewer when pressed further.
“I don’t want to talk about that … because I don’t have to. Goodbye,” he told ABC radio in Perth.
He tried to placate the Chinese in his statement on Wednesday.
“I have been an admirer of China and its people for many years,” he said.
“What is unacceptable is a Chinese state-owned enterprise that abuses the legal system for commercial gain in a global strategic effort to control resources.”
The besieged MP accused the Abbott government of “bowing over backwards” for China, and repeated his assertion that Chinese businesses want to take Australian resources for nothing.
Mr Palmer is in a legal battle with a Chinese company he claims owes him $200 million for iron ore.
State-owned CITIC Pacific alleges Mr Palmer misused its money to fund his 2013 election campaign, a claim he strenuously denies.
The government is determined not to let Mr Palmer’s legal troubles escalate into a full-blown diplomatic row.
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has contacted the Chinese embassy to assure Beijing that Mr Palmer’s views do not reflect the attitude of Australians.
The government wants to finalise a free trade agreement with China – Australia’s largest trading partner – by the end of the year.
Business leaders, including Fortescue Metals chief executive Nev Power, have warned Mr Palmer’s remarks will not help ties with the Asian powerhouse.
But BHP Billiton chief executive Andrew Mackenzie was unfazed, saying the strength of Australia’s relationship with China would “rank more highly in the minds of the Chinese”.