For­eign Min­istry: Aus­tralian ty­coon’s at­tack is ‘ab­surd’

China Daily (Canada) - - CHINA - By REUTERS

The For­eign Min­istry has con­demned a ver­bal at­tack by Aus­tralian min­ing mogul and politi­cian Clive Palmer as “ir­ra­tional and ab­surd”, af­ter the busi­ness­man de­scribed China’s gov­ern­ment as “bas­tards” who shoot their own peo­ple.

“Palmer’s words about China in re­cent days are to­tally ir­ra­tional and ab­surd. We strongly con­demn them,” Min­istry of For­eign Af­fairs spokesman Qin Gang said in a state­ment posted on the min­istry’s web­site on Wed­nes­day,

Qin also noted that Aus­tralian po­lit­i­cal lead­ers, in­clud­ing Prime Min­is­ter Tony Ab­bott, had crit­i­cized Palmer’s words, say­ing the ty­coon’s stance did not have the wider back­ing of the Aus­tralian public.

Xin­hua News Agency said that “one rot­ten ap­ple” should not be al­lowed to ruin re­la­tions. It noted that the Chi­nese em­bassy had re­ceived e-mails of sup­port from Aus­tralians who felt em­bar­rassed by Palmer.

The Aus­tralian gov­ern­ment has re­buked Palmer, who holds the bal­ance of power in the Par­lia­ment’s up­per house. For­eign Min­is­ter Julie Bishop said she planned to con­tact the Chi­nese em­bassy to stress that the Aus­tralian Par­lia­ment does not share Palmer’s “abu­sive” views.

Palmer is locked in a le­gal bat­tle with the Chi­nese firm CITIC Pacific over cost blowouts and dis­puted roy­alty pay­ments at the Sino Iron project in Western Aus­tralia, China’s big­gest off­shore min­ing in­vest­ment.

The out­spo­ken busi­ness­man lost two parts of that le­gal fight on Wed­nes­day. The Fed­eral Court of Aus­tralia ruled that the gov­ern­ment was wrong to have ap­pointed Palmer’s pri­vate com­pany, Min­er­al­ogy Pty Ltd, as op­er­a­tor of Cape Pre­ston port, where Sino Iron is ex­port­ing its ore.

In a sep­a­rate case, a fed­eral judge ruled that the gov­ern­ment had the right to ap­prove CITIC Pacific’s se­cu­rity plan for the port fa­cil­i­ties at Cape Pre­ston.

Min­er­al­ogy had chal­lenged the ap­proval in an at­tempt to block CITIC Pacific, con­trolled by sta­te­owned CITIC Group Corp, from ex­port­ing iron ore from the $8 bil­lion project.

CITIC bought the rights to the ore from Palmer and be­gan ship­ments in De­cem­ber, more than three years be­hind sched­ule at nearly quadru­ple the orig­i­nal cost.

A fur­ther court chal­lenge over some A$200 mil­lion ($185 mil­lion) in roy­al­ties is on­go­ing.

Palmer has al­ready said his com­ments were not in­tended to re­fer to the Chi­nese peo­ple, and on Wed­nes­day is­sued an­other state­ment say­ing he had been a “ma­jor sup­porter of the Chi­nese” for a long time.

Nev Power, chief ex­ec­u­tive of Fortes­cue Met­als Group, which sold $11.8 bil­lion worth of Aus­tralian iron ore to China in fis­cal 2014, said he did not think the re­marks would have an im­pact on bi­lat­eral re­la­tions.

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