China has fired a direct message in response to Australia declaring Beijing's claim in the South China Seas illegal, accusing Canberra of "recklessly making provocations" and blindly following the United States.
Through newspaper The Global Times, it declared sanctions on beef and wine exports are warranted and the broken diplomacy between the two is unsalvageable.
"The relationship between China and Australia has now deteriorated to a very bad point and the chance for a turnaround is slim in the near future," according to the article penned by Guangdong Research Institute Professor Zhou Fangyin.
"One of the main reasons is that Australia's policy lacks independence and its current choice is to closely follow the US lead.
"If Australia further provokes China, not only on political relations, but also economic relations, the damage to Australia should be expected."
The paper claims Australia is "not as tactful" as its Five Eyes alliance partners the United Kingdom and Canada, accusing the Morrison government of aggressively following Washington's lead against China.
"It should be said that so far Australia has not learned a great lesson," Fangyin's article said.
"If it still insists on going on the current path, the possibility that China will take strong countermeasures cannot be ruled out.
"For example, China could target substitutable agricultural products such as beef and wine."
The diplomatic relationship between Australia and China soured when Canberra led calls for an international investigation into the initial outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic in Wuhan.
The increasingly fraught war of words flirted with aggression last week when five Australian warships were reportedly confronted by the Chinese navy near the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea.
But this recent response published in the country's propaganda outlet is a direct retaliation for Australia filing a declaration at the United Nations in New York, rejecting China's maritime claims as being inconsistent with the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.
The escalation comes just days before an upcoming ministerial meeting between the US and Australia, Ausmin.
Leading researcher, the University of Sydney's United States Studies Centre, has urged the two governments to narrow their focus on China at the strategic meeting.
The top research institute recently outlined a policy framework for Australia and the US, claiming the alliance has never had a "more urgent" time to show leadership.
China's Belt and Road Initiative, its island grabbing in the South China Sea, military force in the Taiwan Strait, its annexation of Hong Kong's legal system and the recent clashes at the border with Indian forces reveal a menacing strategy for regional control, the centre said.
"While the United States has been largely distracted during Covid-19 with its own domestic concerns, China has taken advantage of an uncertain regional situation to advance its expansive geopolitical interests in key flashpoints across the Indo-Pacific," the centre's director of foreign policy and defence Ashley Townshend told news.com.au.
"China already has already taken advantage of the pandemic to prosecute its regional agenda in ways that are not favourable to our interests."