Barnaby Joyce was not speaking on behalf of the government when he warned Beijing and Moscow are greater threats than Islamic State.
That was confirmed by Foreign Affairs department secretary Frances Adamson at a Senate committee on Thursday.
"I think it would be fair to say that he was not working off DFAT talking points," she told the hearing in Canberra.
Speaking after the launch of a major new US defence strategy in January, the then deputy prime minister said Islamic State doesn't have the capacity to take out a nation - unlike China or Russia.
But he added he didn't think for one second China is going to do that.
Ms Adamson said there was no response from China to Mr Joyce's comments.
"It was not an issue in our relationship at all," she said.