China's ambassador to Australia has awarded a commemorative medal to a late NSW police officer, who died attempting to rescue a drowning Chinese citizen in the Blue Mountains.
The freshly-appointed ambassador Xiao Qian thanked the family of Senior Constable Kelly Foster on Thursday in Canberra for her heroic attempts to save 24-year-old Chinese student Jennifer Qi in January last year.
Despite Ms Foster's attempts, the two women, who were on a canyoning tour group on the Wollangambe River, died at the scene.
Mr Qian said the incident had strengthened the relationship between Australia and China and said highlighted the "distinguished professionalism and ethics of Australian police".
"Senior Constable Foster's heroic act has helped deepen the existing friendship between Chinese people and Australian people," he said.
"[Her] heroic act embodies the simple, yet lofty humanitarian spirit."
Ms Foster's parents were awarded with the Great Wall Commemorative Medal by the ambassador.
Acting Australian Federal Police commissioner Ian McCartney said the senior constable's action on January 2, 2021 demonstrated what it means to be a police officer.
"Her sacrifice is a true testament to the strength of her character, her unwavering compassion," he said.
Mr Qian, who arrived in Australia last month, took the opportunity to discuss the two countries' frail relations in light of geopolitical tensions.
This year also marks the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the countries.
"China has always attached great importance to Australia, to the China-Australia relationship," he said.
"Taking this anniversary as an opportunity, China is willing to work with Australia to meet each other halfway, to review the past, to look to the future, [and] adhere to the principles of mutual respect and equality and mutual benefit."
"Let's jointly make efforts to push forward China-Australia relations along the right track."
Earlier this week, Prime Minister Scott Morrison accused the Chinese government of an "act of intimidation" after a Chinese warship pointed a laser at an Australia air force aircraft.
"I can see it no other way than an act of intimidation," Mr Morrison said.
"One that is unprovoked, unwarranted, and Australia will never accept such acts of intimidation."
A spokesperson for the Chinese defence ministry denied Australia's account of the situation, adding the Australian Defence Force had "deliberately spread false information and made [an] irresponsible claim".
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.