Prime Minister Scott Morrison says there will be no diplomatic thaw in relations with China until it lifts a block on ministerial meetings.
"So long as China continues to refuse to have dialogue with Australian ministers and the prime minister, I think that's an entirely proportional response," Mr Morrison told reporters on Saturday regarding meeting China's ambassador.
"That would be a demonstration of weakness and I can assure you as prime minister that's the last message I'd ever send to China.
The comments come on the back of the superpower signing a security deal with the Solomon Islands, which was leaked on social media on Friday, allowing its ships to be based in the Pacific and to have a navy base.
The deal has triggered geopolitical anxieties for Australia and the US, both wary of China's expansionist footprint in the region.
"China has completely blocked any minister-to-minister dialogue," the PM said.
"Until ... that block is removed by China, well, I think Australians would see it as very inappropriate for me to engage in that dialogue with an ambassador."
Mr Morrison also defended his government's track record of providing foreign aid to Pacific countries in a pointed message to predecessor Kevin Rudd characterising his criticisms as "straight lies".
"We actually increased our investment in overseas development assistance in the Pacific by 50 per cent ... while (Labor) were chasing votes for the Security Council throwing money at countries far away from our region," he said.
In a statement on Friday, the Solomon Islands said "broadening partnerships is needed to improve the quality of lives of our people and address soft and hard security threats facing the country".
Australia will allocate $22 million in the upcoming budget for the Solomon Islands government to fund salaries for essential workers to help with the impacts of civil unrest and COVID.
The archipelago switched diplomatic ties from Taiwan to Beijing in 2019, which partly led to deadly riots in the capital Honiara last November.
Australia, which has historically provided security to the Solomons, led a policing mission after the riots, following a request from Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare.
A spokesperson for the US State Department said the draft security agreement and the police deal did not address the underlying issues that contributed to the November unrest.
"We do not believe (People's Republic of China) security forces and their methods need to be exported," the spokesperson added.
"This would only fuel local, regional and international concerns over Beijing's unilateral expansion of its internal security apparatus to the Pacific."
Last month, Washington said it would open an embassy in Honiara amid fears China was seeking to strengthen military relations there.
Australian Associated Press
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