China publicly warned Australia on Wednesday against being an “enthusiastic bandwagoner of the U.S. strategy” in the contentious Indo-Pacific region after Foreign Minister Penny Wong concluded her visit to Beijing.

Wong’s diplomatic foray was the first by a minister from Canberra in almost four years, even as China remains Australia’s single biggest trading partner.

Beijing chose China’s state-run media outlet China Daily to warn Australia to be cautious.

Titled “Canberra should not be swayed by US in handling its relations with China”, the editorial affirmed Australia’s new left-wing Labour government led by Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and its efforts to thaw relations with Beijing.

However, it placed the blame for the relationship’s previous breakdown squarely at the feet of Australia, coming as it did during the outbreak of the coronavirus epidemic.

The “anti-China rhetoric” which was present in the former conservative government’s handling of Beijing was cited as a key reason for the diplomatic freeze. The editorial stated:

Bilateral ties have encountered difficulties in recent years, as Canberra drew closer to Washington as the US gave greater attention to the region.

Under the previous government of Scott Morrison, Australia often enthusiastically served as a forerunner in the US’ ‘Indo-Pacific strategy’ aimed at containing China’s development.

Some ideologically-obsessed Australian politicians and media deliberately spread the US’ confrontational narrative against China in Australian society and thus created a poisonous atmosphere for what used to be robust and mutually beneficial ties between the two countries.

Wong’s trip to Beijing was ostensibly a celebration of 50 years of diplomatic relations between the two countries. She unveiled a commemorative envelope on Wednesday to mark the anniversary together with Foreign Minister Wang Yi.

In meetings afterwards, both parties agreed to new bilateral dialogs on diplomatic relations, consular affairs, trade and economic issues, climate change, defense, and regional and international issues.