Prime Minister Tony Abbott has joined the chorus of government ministers condemning Clive Palmer's vitriolic comments about the Chinese government, slamming the mining magnate's comments as ''over the top, shrill and wrong''.
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Palmer backtracks on 'mongrel' comments
Clive Palmer says his comments weren't directed towards the Chinese people, but hung up during an interview when asked to defend Jaqui Lambie's warning of a communist invasion.
On Monday night's Q&A program Mr Palmer described the Chinese as "mongrels" who "shoot their own people".
In his first comments on Mr Palmer's outburst – described by the Chinese government as "absurd" and "irresponsible" – Mr Abbott said the China boom had kept Australia going through the worst of the global financial crisis.
''It's one of the reasons why we want to maintain a strong relationship with China, one of the reasons why what Clive Palmer said the other night was so destructive,'' Mr Abbott told ABC radio.
"Really it's very hard to understand why someone who wants to be influential in our nation's life would be so simplistic and counterproductive."
Mr Abbott said he believed Mr Palmer's comments were driven by a personal business dispute with Chinese company CITI Pacific.
"I think the Chinese appreciate Australia enough to understand that Mr Palmer just speaks for himself on an issue like this and he certainly isn't speaking for Australia," Mr Abbott said.
Mr Palmer stood by his comments in an interview in Perth on Wednesday after a meeting his Palmer United Party Senate Dio Wang, who is of Chinese descent, saying they did not discuss the topic.
"No we didn't discuss this at all," he said, adding his colleague had not been offended by the remarks.
He said West Australian Premier Colin Barnett's comments that he was a racist were not correct.
"I think my comments have been taken out of context," he said.
"I called the people that we're dealing with in our company bastards.
"We're not talking about Chinese people, we're talking about the Chinese communist government who are suppressing their people."
Yet in a later statement, Mr Palmer stepped back from his criticism of the Chinese government, saying his comments referred only to ''one Chinese state-owned company that has failed to honour it agreements and announcements made to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange in early 2006''.
The statement went on to say that he has been ''an admirer of China and its people for many years'' and the Palmer United Party was ''very fortunate to have in its ranks Australia's first mainland-born Chinese''.
Australia and China are currently negotiating a free trade agreement.
Treasurer Joe Hockey, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and Trade Minister Andrew Robb have previously blasted Mr Palmer's comments.
Palmer United Party Senator Jacqui Lambie escalated Mr Palmer's comments on Tuesday by warning Australians risked becoming "slaves to an aggressive, anti-democratic, totalitarian foreign power".
"If anybody thinks that we should have a national security and defence policy, which ignores the threat of a Chinese Communist invasion — you're delusional and got rocks in your head," she said in a statement.
Asked if there was a comparison between Senator Lambie an controversial former MP Pauline Hanson, Mr Abbott responded ''quirky newcomers'' often attracted celebrity-like attention, adding both were ''populist outbreaks on the right of politics''.
''And I think in the end both pretty counterproductive in our national life,'' he said.
''But having said that, I accept . . . the people of Australia elected the Senate that we've got, and we are prepared to work constructively with the Senate that we've got.''
Nationals frontbencher Barnaby Joyce compared Senator Lambie's comments with drunken talk ''at the corner pub''.
''These things sound amusing when they're said after 15 beers but they're very, very dangerous if you want to say them on national television,'' he told the Nine Network.
Immigration Minister Scott Morrison said Mr Palmer's outburst was ''unhelpful'' and ''silly''.
''I wish he hadn't said them. I hope he wishes he hadn't said them,'' he said.
Mr Morrison said Chinese immigrants had made an ''enormous contribution'' to Australian society.