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Prime Minister Scott Morrison's remarks suggesting Australia is willing to talk over problems with China have been knocked back by Beijing.
The Morrison government's lack of communication with their Chinese counterparts has been well publicised amid a torrid 18-month period where relations have rapidly deteriorated.
Speaking to CBS while in the US, Mr Morrison played down tensions, insisting Australia is ready to sit down and work through their differences once China is ready.
“The phone's always open at our end. The door's always open at our end,” Mr Morrison said.
“There is no Australian obstacle to direct dialogue at a political level between Australia and China."
Yet in what has become a predictable response in a prolonged and stubborn back-and-forth, China furiously rejected Mr Morrison's remarks, warning it is Australia that needs to do far more than simply wait for discussions.
"Whether Australia is sincere about improving and developing relations with China, or it does the opposite to what it says, or even goes so far as to blatantly stab China in the back, China has its own judgement," Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said on Tuesday evening.
"The current difficulties in China-Australia relations are entirely of Australia's own making, which is not what China wishes to see and is what Australia knows well."
She suggested Australia was now at a cross roads, and needed to decide whether it sees China as a partner or a threat.
Ms Hua called on Canberra to walk back on "wrong remarks" – a request made several times previously and one rejected by Mr Morrison.
AUKUS pact deteriorates already-strained relationship
Tensions have been inflamed by Australia's new defence pact with the US and UK which will see intelligence shared which will eventually lead to nuclear-powered submarines added to Australia's defence arsenal.
The move has sparked a wave of anger from within Beijing, with Australia's motives questioned with suggestion Canberra has secret intentions of acquiring nuclear weapons.
"The nuclear submarine cooperation between the US, the UK and Australia, which poses a serious risk of nuclear proliferation," Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said last week.
He accused the countries of "provoking an arms race", with the announcement "deliberately escalating regional tension".
Australia, particularly Defence Minister Peter Dutton, has faced the wrath of Beijing in recent weeks for repeated remarks about a growing threat China poses in the region.
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