A top official from the Chinese government has put the blame on suspended economic discussions squarely on Canberra and demanded Australia “take full responsibility” for damaged ties.
In fresh criticism, China’s Ministry of Commerce spokesperson Gao Feng defended the diplomatic freeze and instead pointed the finger at Australia.
“Recently, the Australian government has unreasonably restricted and suppressed China-Australia economic and trade cooperation projects and the existing achievements,” he said on Thursday.
This has “damaged” mutual trust between the two countries and “seriously affected” business confidence,” he added.
“Relevant Chinese authorities have to make a proper and necessary response, and the Australian side should take full responsibility for this.”
The Chinese embassy responded swiftly, saying the move would further damage bilateral relations and Canberra would “only end up hurting itself”.
"This is another unreasonable and provocative move taken by the Australian side against China," a Chinese embassy spokesperson said at the time.
"It further shows that the Australian government has no sincerity in improving China-Australia relations.”
On Thursday, Gao echoed these sentiments, adding: “We urge the Australian side to view China-Australia cooperation in an objective and rational way and treat Chinese companies in a fair and impartial way,” Gao added.
A port in Darwin, dubbed by analysts as strategically significant, has also become a recent battleground in the stoush between the two nations.
Relations with China, Australia’s largest trading partner, began to sour after Canberra led the call for an independent inquiry into the origins of COVID-19.