Australian mining magnate and politician Clive Palmer accused China of seeking to take over the nation’s resources, earning a rebuke from Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s government, Bloomberg News reported.
“They want to take over our ports and get our resources for free,” Palmer said on Australian Broadcasting Corp. television late on Monday. He also labeled a unit of China’s state-owned Citic Pacific Ltd. (00267.HK), his partner in the world’s biggest magnetite iron ore mine in Western Australia, as “mongrels”.
Abbott’s government assailed Palmer’s comments as “hugely damaging”, and stressed the importance of Australia’s relationship with its biggest trading partner. The Australian Industry Group called Palmer’s comments “ill-considered and inappropriate”.
Palmer is locked in legal battles with Citic Pacific, which has alleged he used funds from a joint account to help finance his political campaign. His Palmer United Party has three senators in the Parliament’s upper house, making it an influential force that Abbott’s government must win over to pass legislation should it be opposed by Labor and the Greens, Bloomberg said.
On the ABC’s Q&A show, 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.
“It’s hugely damaging for Mr. Palmer to make those sort of comments because ultimately, he is the big beneficiary of a Chinese investment partner; someone that has paid to help him to develop his resources,” Treasurer Joe Hockey was quoted as saying. “I would say to Mr. Palmer, please do not bring down the rest of Australia because of your biases.”
The Chinese embassy in Australia called Palmer’s comments “absurd and irresponsible”, adding that they were “full of of ignorance and prejudice”, the Guardian newspaper reported.
“We believe that a sound China-Australian relationship serves the fundamental interests of both countries. It is and always will be supported by the two peoples,” the embassy said in a statement.
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