(CNN) -- Outspoken Australian billionaire tycoon and politician Clive Palmer has apologized for his verbal attack on China during a television interview last week, when he called Chinese people "mongrels" who "shoot their own people."
The leader of the Palmer United Party was appearing on Australian television channel ABC when he was asked about the Chinese state-owned company he is locked in a dispute with.
They're "bastards," he said. "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 [Australia]."
He later clarified that his comments were meant for the company rather than the Chinese people or their government -- though Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Qin Gang was unimpressed and described Palmer's words as "totally irrational and absurd."
Then in a letter to China's ambassador to Australia Monday, Palmer apologized for his remarks.
"I regret any hurt or anguish such comments may have caused any party and I look forward to greater understanding for peace and cooperation in future," he wrote.
"I now come to the realization that what I said on Q&A was an insult to Chinese people everywhere and I wish to assure them they have my most genuine and sincere apology."
He then went on to emphasize his links with China, before referencing Mao Zedong, China's late paramount leader.
"I have had a long involvement with China since first visiting the country in 1962. As Chairman Mao said in Nanjing when celebrating the 45th anniversary of the 1911 Revolution, words to the effect that over 45 years have passed since the 1911 Revolution and China had only sought friendly relations with its neighbors.
"He went on to say that another 45 years would pass and China would continue to seek good relations with its relations and China has. It is in the interest of the whole world that Australia and China have good relations."
In response, China's ambassador to Australia, Ma Zhaoxu, said any remarks that attacked or slandered China would not gain popular support and were doomed to fail, the state-run Xinhua news agency reported Tuesday.
"The healthy and stable relationship between China and Australia is in the fundamental interests of the people of the two countries, and cannot be hindered by any individual," he said.