WA senator-elect Dio Wang came to the defence of his Palmer United Party boss yesterday, insisting Clive Palmer is a "strong friend of China" despite Colin Barnett's claims otherwise.
Mr Palmer also hit back at the Premier yesterday, saying: "The Chinese don't hate me. They love me."
Mr Barnett launched a blistering attack on the billionaire businessman on Tuesday, accusing him of damaging WA's relationship with China through his dealings with China's CITIC Pacific over the Sino Iron magnetite project in the Pilbara.
Mr Palmer's Mineralogy is locked in bitter legal battles with CITIC over the project and the use of port facilities at Cape Preston - disputes that Mr Barnett says have led the Chinese to "hate" Mr Palmer.
Mr Barnett said Mr Palmer's willingness to "sue anyone at the drop of a hanky" had caused the ill will between him, the Chinese and the State Government and he had a responsibility to co-operate so the project could go ahead. But Mr Palmer said he did not care what Mr Barnett said.
"I'm 60. If I'm not elected next time it's OK," he said. "I'm an Australian and I can go back to my life.
"If Colin's not elected he'll go into unemployment because no one will employ him."
Nanjing-born Mr Wang said Mr Barnett's comments about the Chinese hating Mr Palmer were "outrageous" and "nothing short of scandalous".
He said Mr Palmer had offices in China and had enjoyed positive dealings with many Chinese businesses over a long time.
"Clive Palmer has a greater interest probably than anyone else in the success of CITIC Pacific's Sino Iron project because he receives royalties from operations of the project," Mr Wang said.
"He is the one who wants to see the project in full production as soon as possible.
"They don't hate him at all."
Mr Barnett declined to respond to Mr Palmer's comments.