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Palmer's China rant raises eyebrows

Clive Palmer deflects questions on ABC's Q&A, over claims he siphoned cash to fund his election, by launching into a tirade against his former Chinese business partners.

PT1M4S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-3dx2p 620 349

BEIJING Clive Palmer’s live television tirade could prove the last straw for worsening Australia-China relations, a Chinese state-owned newspaper has claimed, in an editorial that also calls for the country to impose sanctions against the Palmer United Party leader's businesses, and bar him from entering the country.

“China must let those prancing provocateurs know how much of a price they pay when they deliberately rile us,” The Global Times said, in an editorial published in both its Chinese and English editions on Wednesday.

A Chinese newspaper has called for Clive Palmer to be barred from the country over his recent comments.

A Chinese newspaper has called for Clive Palmer to be barred from the country over his recent comments. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

“China cannot let him off, or show petty kindness just because the Australian government has condemned him. China must be aware that Palmer's rampant rascality serves as a symbol that Australian society has an unfriendly attitude toward China.”

Owned by the Communist Party’s flagship newspaper the People’s Daily, The Global Times is known for its fierce brand of nationalism, and its commentaries are often considered controversial even at home.  

It has crossed swords with Australian politicians in the past – most recently labelling Foreign Minister Julie Bishop as a “complete fool” when, in an interview with Fairfax Media last month, she pledged to stand up for Australian values and “manage for the worst” when dealing with China. It also said Australia was once an outpost of “rascals and outlaws”.

That instance came amid furore across China’s state-controlled media over Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s decision to praise the valour of Japanese soldiers during World War II during the visit of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. The Palmer outburst, while receiving little mainstream media coverage on Tuesday, began spreading across China’s most popular internet news portals on Wednesday morning.  

In its editorial targeting Mr Palmer on Wednesday, The Global Times said his remarks posed a “direct threat to Australia-Sino relations” despite drawing immediate condemnation from both sides of government.

Australian business leaders in China, including the Australian Chamber of Commerce in Beijing, have also been at pains to emphasise Mr Palmer’s views are not more broadly shared within the Australian government.

‘‘If China generously accepts the condemnations against Palmer by Australian public opinion without taking solid action to punish him, this risks giving Australians the impression that China has too much good will to bother toning it down,” The Global Times said. 

“On the contrary, Palmer could be the last straw for worsening Sino-Australian relations. How we respond will be a turning point for Australia's understanding of China.”

Mr Palmer, who is embroiled in a bitter commercial dispute with Chinese resource house CITIC Pacific, referred to the Chinese government as “bastards” who “shoot their own people” on the ABC’s Q&A television panel show on Monday.

The Chinese embassy in Australia released a statement on Tuesday calling his comments “absurd and irresponsible”.  

A report from the Sydney bureau of official news agency Xinhua said Australian citizens had sent emails to the Chinese embassy denouncing the mining tycoon's "insulting remarks" regarding China.

Former Labor foreign minister Bob Carr said on Wednesday that he did not think Mr Palmer's comments warranted an official apology from Australia.

''My instincts would be to stop short of an apology because an apology assumes we’ve got some control over what this unusual figure in Australian politics can do or say,'' he told ABC Radio.

''I’d like it to work in a different way. I’d like Clive Palmer himself to reflect on his comments and to clear the air by retracting those of them that are fantastically offensive.

''I think he’s got to think seriously about the long-term interests that every Australian household has got in a robust and viable relationship with China, one that’s deepened, one that becomes a true strategic partnership as Australian governments have aspired to make it.''

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