Australian mining mogul and politician Clive Palmer was rebuked by the government yesterday for a tirade against China, in which he described its government as "bastards" who shoot their own people and want to take over Australia's resources.
The mining-baron-turned-politician is a member of parliament and head of the Palmer United Party that holds the balance of power in Australia's senate, the upper house of parliament.
WATCH: Clive Palmer attacks Chinese interests on an ABC network current affairs show
Treasurer Joe Hockey said the remarks aired on Australian television on Monday were "hugely damaging", noting that Palmer had benefited personally from doing business with China.
"Do not bring down the rest of Australia because of your biases," he said. "They are a business partner for Australia, they're our biggest trading partner, they buy a lot of our produce."
Palmer is locked in a legal battle with Chinese firm Citic Pacific over cost blowouts and disputed royalty payments at an iron ore port in Cape Preston, Western Australia.
When asked about the case while appearing on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's Q&A programme, Palmer launched into an attack on what he called the "communist Chinese government" and its attempts to take over Australia's ports.
"I don't mind standing up against the Chinese bastards and stopping them from doing it," Palmer said. "I'm saying that because they're communist, because they shoot their own people, they haven't got a justice system and they want to take over this country. We're not going to let them do it."
Palmer tweeted a clarification yesterday: "My #qanda comments not intended to refer to Chinese people but to Chinese company which is taking Australian resources & not paying."
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said she planned to contact the Chinese embassy to stress that the Australian parliament did not share Palmer's "abusive" views. "It really isn't appropriate for him to use a national television programme to vent his bitterness about a legal dispute he is having with a Chinese company," Bishop told Fairfax radio.
Palmer told ABC that he was "owed about A$500 million (HK$3.61 billion) by the communist Chinese government".
"We'll be suing them and they'll be answering the questions," he said.
"We've had three judgments in the Federal Court and the Supreme Court of Western Australia and an arbitration against these Chinese mongrels.
"I'm saying that 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," he added.
"The Chinese government wants to bring workers here to destroy our wage system... They want to take over our ports and get our resources for free.
"So far they've shifted AU$200 million worth of iron ore out of this country without paying for it. I don't mind standing up against the Chinese bastards."
Earlier this year, Citic Pacific president Zhang Jijing warned that legal issues with Palmer could have broader implications for Chinese business in Australia.
One of the tycoon's Palmer United Party senators came to his defence, with Jacqui Lambie telling reporters China was led by "an aggressive, anti-democratic, totalitarian government".
Anyone who "ignores the threat of a Chinese communist invasion — you're delusional", she said.
Meanwhile, Palmer's comments provoked outrage on Chinese social media.
One user of Weibo said he was "using nationalism and chauvinism to stir up Australian hostility to China, which could help cover up the truth that he stole money from Chinese companies to win the vote".
Palmer's headline-grabbing business projects have included building a replica of the Titanic and adding a Jurassic Park-style collection of mechanical dinosaurs to the grounds of his five-star resort.
Reuters, Associated Press, Agence France-Presse