China says a "political force" in Australia that views it as a rival and its development as a threat has been responsible for the deterioration of the relationship between the two countries.
China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi made comments about China-Australia relations to members of the Chinese media while visiting Papua New Guinea.
Wang said a reset in the relationship required "concrete actions" and that there was "no autopilot".
"The crux of the difficulties in China-Australia relations in the past few years is that some political force in Australia insists on viewing China as a rival rather than a partner and framing China's development as a threat rather than an opportunity," a statement from China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.
"This has led to a significant retrogression of the many-year positive and pragmatic China policy by Australia.
"The solution is looking at China and China-Australia relations in a sensible and positive way, uphold mutual respect, seek common ground while shelving differences, and create the necessary conditions for bringing bilateral relations back on the normal track."
The comments came as Wang finishes an eight-country tour of the Pacific region that has raised concerns in Washington and Canberra.
In the wake of his trip, Australia's new Foreign Minister, Penny Wong, also flew to the region, visiting Fiji, Samoa and Tonga.
China has signed more than 50 agreements while touring Pacific countries but failed to convince 10 nations to sign on to a sweeping regional trade and security deal.
It now appears discussions around that agreement could be delayed until next year and could lead to the creation of a new sub-regional discussion forum between China and the 10 Pacific nations that have diplomatic relationships.
Agreements signed in Timor-Leste
Wang finished his unprecedented tour in Timor-Leste on Saturday.
On the final leg of his trip, he held a series of meetings with Timorese President Jose Ramos-Horta, the Prime Minister, Foreign Minister and former president Xanana Gusmao.
The two countries also signed several agreements on issues such as civil aviation, agriculture and increased economic and technical cooperation, and a media licensing agreement.
He flew into Timor-Leste from Port Moresby, where he had meetings with PNG's Foreign Minister and then-prime minister during a very brief visit.
The limited schedule in PNG was likely due to the fact the country is in the midst of an election campaign, but Prime Minister James Marape hit back at criticism that the timing was awkward or inappropriate.
"Although we were not the principal point of visit to the Pacific, we are privileged to have received him," he said.
"China-PNG relationship cannot be compromised or sabotaged - it's a very important relationship."
In PNG, minor agreements were signed on promoting investment in green development, aid for COVID-19 and the development of an anti-narcotics centre.
'Give the Australian journalist a chance'
There has been criticism about the limited media access given during Wang's tour.
In Port Moresby, a joint press conference was scheduled but as it was about to start, media were told that after both ministers had spoken, only one Chinese journalist and one PNG journalist could ask a question of their own foreign minister.
Solomon Islands journalists boycotted a press conference when similar rules were set in advance there.
However, when Mirriam Zarriga, a reporter from PNG daily paper The Post Courier, asked a question about the Solomons security deal, both the PNG and Chinese foreign ministers responded.
So, at last, a Pacific journalist was able to ask a question and get a response from Wang.
At the end of the press conference, Wang then made a point of calling on the ABC to also ask a question.
"The host country asked one question while China asked another," he said in Mandarin.
"It seems that reporters from Australia have always wanted to ask questions."
He turned to his PNG counterpart as he finished, saying: "If my friend agrees, we will give the Australian journalist a chance."
Following the joint press conference, as PNG media were interviewing Marape, Chinese media conducted a separate interview with Wang Yi, where he made the comments about the relationship between Australia and China.