On Thursday, Australia raised concerns about the "pace and scale" of China's activities in the disputed zone - part of a wide-ranging document setting out Canberra's foreign engagement strategy.
Beijing said the paper was generally positive towards China, but Australia should not get involved in the dispute.
The Australian government played down the criticism on Friday.
In a briefing on Thursday, China's foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang noted that Australia had repeatedly pledged not to take sides over the South China Sea.
"Australia is not directly involved in the South China Sea issue," he said.
"So we would like to advise Australia to abide by its commitment and stop making irresponsible remarks on the South China Sea issue."
Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop told the ABC she had received feedback from Chinese officials that "they respect the stand we have taken".
Photo copyrightAFP/GETTY IMAGES. Caption: Australian PM Malcolm Turnbull with Chinese President Xi Jinping last year