Colin Barnett and Kerry Stokes have led an unprecedented intervention to reassure China that a string of "abhorrent" and "racist" comments from businessman Clive Palmer should not undermine ties with Australia's most important trade partner.
The Premier, the WA businessman, and Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, were compelled to make direct contact with China's diplomatic representatives in Australia yesterday over fears of financial repercussions from Mr Palmer's latest public tirade.
It came after his appearance on the ABC's Q&A program on Monday night, during which Mr Palmer labelled the company "Chinese mongrels" after being pressed on his continuing civil court cases with estranged mining partner CITIC Pacific.
"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. And we're not going to let them," he said.
"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."
Mr Palmer arrived in Perth on his private jet yesterday and met Palmer United Party Senator Dio Wang at the Parmelia Hilton's Adelphi Grill in the CBD.
Early yesterday, he used Twitter to argue his comments were specifically about a single company. But his party's defence spokeswoman, Tasmanian Senator Jacqui Lambie, said she backed Mr Palmer for highlighting the military threat posed to Australia by the Chinese military.
The Chinese Embassy issued a rare public slap-down of the MP, who has been stymieing the Federal Government in the Senate.
"The words of Clive Palmer are absurd and irresponsible which are full of ignorance and prejudice," it said. "We believe a sound China-Australian relationship serves the fundamental interests of both countries."
Mr Barnett told State Parliament he believed Mr Palmer's comments were racist after revealing he would apologise to China directly for the comments.
"Mr Palmer is displaying the worst of Australia, he is damaging the international standing of Australia in Chinese eyes, both in investment and government circles, he is behaving improperly, he is an embarrassment and I completely dissociate his words with the views of the West Australian Government," he said.
Mr Stokes, the Seven West Media chairman, who has had long-term commercial ties with China, said Mr Palmer had allowed his own business interests to spill over into the national interest.
"Every word he said will be on every tweet, on every email in China they will be melting down with indignation, the way he called them mongrels and the other degrading terms he used," he said.
Ms Bishop said China had a right to feel offended by Mr Palmer's abusive language.
"Mr Palmer's comments are offensive, they are unnecessary and it is unacceptable for a member of Parliament to make such comments, particularly on a national television program," she said.
Treasurer Joe Hockey also condemned Mr Palmer. "It's hugely damaging for Mr Palmer to make those sorts of comments because ultimately, he is the big beneficiary of a Chinese investment partner - someone that has paid to help him to develop his resources," he said.
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said the comments were irresponsible and not in Australia's best interests.
Legal hostilities between Mr Palmer's company Mineralogy and CITIC will resume today in the Queensland Supreme Court.