China Tells Australia It Won't Accept Any 'Preaching or Lecturing' Amid Tensions

China will not accept any "preaching or lecturing" from Australia and will "resolutely follow its own path," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said this week as the two nations continue to navigate tensions.

Relations between the countries began to decline in 2020 after Australia requested an independent investigation into the coronavirus's origins and responses to the pandemic, the Associated Press reported. The latest fissure between the nations came this week when Australia rejected accusations from China that it was inhibiting the distribution of Chinese vaccines in Papua New Guinea.

The Australian treasurer and deputy leader of the ruling Liberal Party, Josh Frydenberg, said Wednesday that China remains a "very important economic partner" despite the strained relations. However, he told reporters his country would "not put economic interests first."

"We will put the broader national interest first, and that means standing up with a very clear and consistent sense of where our national interest is, and that is what we have done," Frydenberg said.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below:

Wang Wenbin
China will not accept "any condescending, preaching or lecturing" from Australia, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said this week. Above, Wang listens to a question at the daily Foreign Ministry briefing in Beijing on July 24, 2020. Greg Baker/AFP via Getty Images

Frydenberg spoke after the White House coordinator for the Indo-Pacific, Kurt Campbell, said there was a "harshness" in China's approach to Australia that "appears unyielding."

"I would have thought we were basically settling in for the long haul in terms of tensions between China and Australia," Campbell told an Asia Society webinar late Tuesday.

While an increasingly assertive China's relations have soured with several countries, Australia has been singled out for special treatment through a ban on government minister-to-minister contacts.

Campbell said China appeared to have attempted to "cut Australia out of the herd and to try to see if they can affect Australia to completely change how it both sees itself and sees the world."

"The United States...have tried to make clear that we're not going to leave Australia on the field. That's just not going to happen," Campbell said.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin dismissed Campbell's characterization of Chinese policy toward Australia and denied Beijing was interfering in other countries' internal affairs.

"China welcomes all constructive suggestions and well-intentioned criticisms, but will never accept any condescending, preaching or lecturing and will resolutely follow its own path," Wang said.

Frydenberg said Australia was "definitely living with a different China than we've seen in years prior."

He said Australia had protected its national interests by barring Chinese communication giant Huawei from involvement in the nation's 5G networks, outlawing covert foreign interference in domestic politics and canceling deals struck by an Australian state government under Beijing's Belt and Road infrastructure initiative.

Frydenberg has also personally blocked Chinese investment applications in Australia on national interest grounds.

"I've increasingly seen foreign investment applications that have been pursued not necessarily for commercial objectives but for strategic objectives and, as you know, I've said 'no' to applications that in the past may have been approved," Frydenberg said.

Wang accused Frydenberg of "hyping the 'China threat theory' and making irresponsible remarks" for his own political interests.

Australian Treasurer
Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg during question time in the House of Representatives on June 23. Sam Mooy/Getty Images