As the diplomatic dispute between China and Australia intensified on Wednesday, Attorney-General Christian Porter accused China of being irrational and the Chinese Ambassador to Canberra of getting "emotional".
China has reacted angrily to Australia's call for an independent inquiry into the origins of the coronavirus, threatening trade retaliation, a threat that promoted Foreign Affairs Secretary Frances Adamson to put in a call to Ambassador Cheng Jingye on Monday.
Mr Cheng hit back, saying while Ms Adamson had tried her best to defend Australia, he had made it clear to her that "no matter what excuses the Australian side has made, the fact can not be buried that the proposal is a political manoeuvre".
He released a synopsis of the call which prompted the Foreign Affairs Department to issue a statement "regretting" the embassy's released of "purported details of official diplomatic exchanges".
"The department will not respond by itself breaching the long standing diplomatic courtesies and professional practices to which it will continue to adhere," it said.
That brought more anger from the Chinese embassy, which said it had had "no choice but to set the record straight". "The embassy of China doesn't play petty tricks, this is not our tradition. But if others do, we have to reciprocate."
Mr Porter entered the fray on Wednesday, saying it was "irrational, illogical and unreasonable" to suggest there shouldn't be an inquiry, given the "very very unclear" origins of the virus.
"The Chinese Ambassador's response was largely emotional and generally speaking those type of emotional responses are relatively short-lived. So whether this escalates or not will be a matter to wait, watch and see," he said.
We've taken a huge risk on each other, we've not been bullied by forces much bigger than us and we've delivered for the Australian and Chinese people.Fortescue Metals chairman Andrew Forrest
It was "inarguably reasonable" that "a virus which has killed enormous numbers of people, brought the world economy to a grinding halt, brought the Australian economy to its knees - from which position we have to recover - should be the subject of a forthright investigation, so that we can understand the origins, the early transmission, the way in which the disease was administered, well or not well in its early stages", he said.
Crossbench senator Rex Patrick revived his push for a Senate inquiry into the relationship between the countries.
A substantial reset was required and Labor and the Coalition should not be intimidated by China's "boycott diplomacy", he said.
"The Ambassador revealed China's true diplomatic face and confirmed concerns about China's preference for control and coercion rather than partnership," he said.
But Labor looks set to oppose his parliamentary inquiry again, with foreign affairs spokeswoman Penny Wong saying while the relationship was in a new phase, it should be above political partisanship.
But she backed calls for an international inquiry into the coronavirus origins.
"It is entirely appropriate for the international community to want to know how it began, and I would say to China, it is in China's interests that the world understand how it began," she said.
Amid the diplomatic stoush, Health Minister Greg Hunt announced that Fortescue Metals chairman Andrew Forrest has used Chinese contacts to secure another 10 million test kits through his Minderoo Foundation.
Dr Forrest said while there would be flashpoints in the relationship with China, it was solid and long lasting, with a very deep trust and friendship between Fortescue Metals and the Beijing Genomic Institute, which is supplying the test kits.
"We've taken a huge risk on each other, we've not been bullied by forces much bigger than us and we've delivered for the Australian and Chinese people," he said.
Mr Cheng accused Australia of ideological bias and political games, and said Foreign Minister Marise Payne's description of his threats as "economic coercion" was "erroneous".
Liberal senator Jim Molan said the pandemic showed that Australia must urgently "correct the excesses of globalisation" to ensure it could take care of its own needs in food, medicine, energy, IT, fuels, industry, transportation and defence.
Every indicator pointed to a still bigger crisis in the region, he said.
"We tend to hide these indicators by using polite terms such as cyber attacks, posturing, economic decoupling, rhetoric, stockpiling, weapons procurement, military deployments, espionage, cooperation between allies, harassment, warnings to antagonists, and economic coercion from behind a lack of transparency," he said, writing in Defence Connect this week.
Last week, Liberal MP Andrew Hastie, who chairs the parliamentary intelligence and security committee has launched a petition calling for "push back" against China's attempts to "reshape the global order and Australia's position in it through foreign interference, ownership of strategic assets and influence operations".