Tit-for-tat diplomatic reprisals have since followed, including raids on the homes of Chinese journalists in Australia, evacuation of some Australian journalists from China and a raft of trade measures imposed by China on Australian exports.
China is by far Australia's top overall export market, worth $104 billion in 2019 according to the IMF, so a lasting severing of trade ties could damage the Australian economy.
Australian shipments of beef, barley and coal worth billions of dollars have been the most impacted by recent measures, and China has been able to find alternative supplies easily.
Australian commodity exports to China
Iron ore - Australia's top export and a critical ingredient for China's massive steel sector - has been spared so far from any crossfire, as has Australian LNG.
Here is a timeline of how commodities markets have been impacted by the mounting tensions between the countries:
China's northern port of Dalian bans imports of Australian coal and caps overall coal imports from all sources to the end of 2019 at 12 million tonnes.
China hits Australian barley with anti-dumping and anti-subsidy duties totalling 80.5% from May 19, with the duties expected to last five years.
It also halts beef imports from four of Australia's largest meat processors.
China, the top export market for Australian wine, launches anti-dumping and anti-subsidy probes on some Australian wines.
AUGUST 31/SEPTEMBER 2020
China suspends barley imports from Australia's largest grain exporter CBH Grain after pests were found, and orders stricter inspections of Australian wheat and barley.
Australia is the biggest barley supplier to China, exporting about A$1.5 billion to A$2 billion worth a year, which is more than half its exports.
Australia investigates reports that China has verbally instructed buyers to avoid Australian coal supplies.
China has ordered cotton mills to stop buying Australian supplies or face the risk of a tariff of 40%. China is the biggest buyer of Australian cotton, with the trade worth about A$900 million ($637 million) during the 2018/19 crop year.
(Reporting by Shivani Singh; editing by Jason Neely)