Scott Morrison has been forced to backtrack after misrepresenting Australia's policy on Taiwan for a second time.
The prime minister has twice referred to a "one country, two systems" approach towards Taiwan, adopting Beijing's position.
But this is not the Australian government's official stance.
Australia has for many decades maintained a "one country" policy on Taiwan.
Mr Morrison first signalled the apparent shift on talkback radio and denied he made a mistake during a follow-up interview with SBS.
But a government spokesman has confirmed he misspoke on both occasions.
"Australia's one-China policy has not changed," the spokesman told AAP on Thursday.
"However, Australia maintains close and positive unofficial ties with Taiwan, an important trade and economic partner. The prime minister's comments on 'one country, two systems' were in relation to Hong Kong."
Labor senator Penny Wong was alarmed by the prime minister doubling down on the apparent shift in policy.
"Either Scott Morrison has substantially shifted Australia's policy on Taiwan, adopting Beijing's position and ending 50 years of bipartisanship, or he's lying to cover up his mistake," Senator Wong said.
"Given his form, my assumption is it's the latter."
The policy distinction has come into sharp focus as the prospect of military conflict between China and Taiwan continues to grow.
Taiwan has warned it is preparing for a final assault from Beijing and has called on support from Australia.
China has warned Australia not to get involved.
Australian Associated Press