The Australian government has distanced itself from a lawmaker who went on a tirade against what he said are Communist Chinese "mongrels" and "bastards" trying to take over his country.
The comments were made by outspoken multi-millionaire politician and mining tycoon Clive Palmer, whose Mineralogy company is involved in a legal dispute with Chinese state-owned CITIC Pacific Mining. The companies are mining magnetite iron ore from an Australian ranch, but have clashed over royalties and operations.
CITIC accuses Palmer of siphoning off $11 million to help fund his election campaign. Palmer rejects the charge. In a panel broadcast live on Australian television late Monday, the 60-year-old said he was filing a countersuit over the $465 million he says his companies are owed by Beijing.
He said this was part of his efforts to stand up against the "Chinese bastards," adding that he had already received federal and supreme court judgments against what he called the "Chinese mongrels."
Palmer said he was making the remarks "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."
Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop called Palmer's statements offensive, unnecessary and unacceptable, saying they do not reflect the opinions of the Australian government or the Australian people.
Other Australian officials said it was not helpful that Palmer would make the comments at a time when Canberra is in the final stages of negotiating a free trade agreement with Beijing.
Addressing the controversy, Palmer later said on Twitter that his comments were not intended to refer to Chinese people, but to a Chinese company "which is taking Australian resources and not paying."
Beijing has not responded to the comments by Palmer, who was elected to parliament last October and who controls a powerful voting bloc in the Australian Senate.