An Australian mining magnate has apologised for calling the Chinese “mongrels” and accusing Beijing of trying to take over the country.
After Clive Palmer’s tirade on national television, government ministers accused him of threatening Australia’s relations with its biggest trading partner.
The millionaire, who is also an MP, initially said little but has now sent a letter of apology to Chinese ambassador Ma Zhaoxu.
“I most sincerely apologise for any insult to Chinese people caused by any of the language I used,” Mr Palmer wrote.
“In keeping an open mind, I now come to the realisation that what I said… was an insult to Chinese people everywhere and I wish to assure them they have my most genuine and sincere apology.”
Mr Palmer made the comments when questioned about a legal dispute between his mining firm Mineralogy and its Chinese state-owned partnerCITIC Pacific Mining.
CITIC alleged in court that Mr Palmer siphoned AU$12m(6.75m) to fund his Palmer United Party’s election campaign.
Mr Palmer said his companies were owed “about AU$500m(281m) by the communist Chinese government that doesn’t want to pay”, and he was counter-suing.
“I don’t mind standing up against the Chinese ******** and stopping them from doing it,” he said.
He said his companies already had three federal and supreme court judgments “against these Chinese mongrels”.
Mr Palmer added: “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.”
The 60-year-old later tweeted 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 Mr Palmer’s comments as “absurd”, ”irresponsible” and “full of ignorance and prejudice”.
After receiving his apology it issued another statement saying healthy relations were “in the fundamental interests of the two countries… and cannot be overturned by any individual”.