A Chinese news network has slammed Australia after a recent survey found Australia to be the 'Least friendly country to China' in the last year.
Chinese state-owned news network Xinhua has published a strongly-worded editorial accusing Australia of acting like an "arrogant overlord", intensifying a diplomatic stoush over Chinese aid.
China also lodged an official diplomatic complaint with Australia after a Turnbull government minister attacked Beijing's aid program in the Pacific.
International Development Minister Concetta Fierravanti-Wells criticised China's assistance to tiny Pacific Island nations for building "white elephant" projects and "roads to nowhere".
She also expressed concerns about the sustainability of China's loan arrangements with the island nations.
In 2009, Tonga's debt to China was $US100.4 million ($A132.9 million), which was equivalent to one-third of its national income.
The Xinhua editorial hit back in strong language, arguing Chinese loans were "sincere" attempts to help poorer nations in the region.
A recent survey of Chinese netizens by Chinese news portal Huanqiu.com found Australia was the “Least friendly country to China in 2017”.
"If Australia really cares about its Pacific neighbors, it should first learn from China to treat those much smaller neighbors as equals and refrain from behaving like an arrogant overlord," the piece read.
The Chinese foreign ministry also publically defended its aid program.
"The remarks made by the Australian official show scant regard for the facts and are nothing but irresponsible," a spokesman said.
"The Chinese side has lodged representations with the Australian government on this."
He said assistance from China had helped fuel the economic and social development of the countries in question and had been warmly welcomed.
Labor's foreign affairs spokeswoman Penny Wong said the comments demonstrated the government's clumsy approach to foreign policy.
Her colleague Chris Bowen said the government needed to have a good look at itself when it comes to the management of the bilateral relationship with Australia's largest trading partner.
Liberal frontbencher Josh Frydenberg said Senator Fierravanti-Wells had made relevant points.
"When it comes to sustainable debt management and economically productive investments she is absolutely right that this needs to be a priority for our Pacific partners," he told ABC Radio.
The Lowy Insitute estimates China has poured $2.3 billion in aid to the South Pacific since 2006.