A Chinese official has described Australia as "sick" amid an ongoing war of words between the two countries largely being played out in the media.
In the latest barb to come from the Chinese government, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin again laid the blame for the frosty relations at the feet of the Australian government.
During his standard press conference on Tuesday, he accused Australia of being "sick" and "making others take the medicine".
"The Australian side used the word 'authoritarian' to describe China, but it was among the first to ban Chinese companies from its 5G rollout. It has also vetoed time and again Chinese investments under the pretext of 'national security' and wantonly searched Chinese journalists in Australia," he said.
"It accused China of undermining the rules, but again it [has] blatantly torn up cooperative deals with China," he added, ostensibly referring the recent cancellation of Victoria's so-called Belt and Road agreement with China.
"Australia is telling others to take the medicine when it is sick itself."
Mr Wang was responding to a question about comments made earlier by Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade secretary Frances Adamson, who told a graduation ceremony "China expects compromise on key national interests in exchange for dialogue and cooperation".
The sledge was seized upon by the Communist Party mouthpiece The Global Times overnight which accused Australia of "sabotaging" normal relations under the headline: "Australia 'is sick', needs to take medicine: China's Foreign Ministry".
The Global Times outlet has been at the centre of deteriorating relations over the past 18 months, with former editors recently telling Yahoo News Australia the publication has "gotten much closer to the government" which is driving the increasingly nationalistic coverage.
Diplomatic relations between the two countries are at an all-time low amid trade tensions and concerns about China's aggression in the Indo-Pacific region, in particular its stated goal of reclaiming the democratic island of Taiwan.
Earlier this week Australia's Secretary of the Home Affairs department warned Australia must be prepared for "the beating drums of war".
Meanwhile Defence Minister Peter Dutton said war with China "can't be discounted" – a worst case scenario that experts say could see millions dead.
Do you have a story tip? Email: firstname.lastname@example.org