Australia working through 'difficult issues' with China

A top Australian diplomat has told a Senate committee that the bilateral relationship with China is going through "complex and difficult issues," but rejects a media report of a diplomatic deep freeze.

Frances Adamson, secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, described The Australian newspaper's headline on Thursday: "Cold war: China's freeze on ties" as "just wrong."

Adamson told the committee the two countries are "going through a period where there are some complex and difficult issues," but are working through those issues.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop backed the diplomat's assessment, saying in a statement: "Australia's deep diplomatic engagement with China continues as normal."

The Chinese Embassy in Australia did not immediately respond to a request for comment.