Prime Minister Albanese has passed his first major test, by making it clear that if Beijing was expecting his government to be more susceptible to "Wolf Warrior" diplomacy and economic coercion it will be disappointed.
Mr Albanese, who went to great lengths - including having a "pocket cabinet" sworn in on Monday morning -to attend the Quad leaders' meeting in Tokyo, has brushed aside an apparent effort at conciliation by China, indicating actions speak louder than words and Beijing will need to remove the punitive tariffs placed on Australian goods.
When asked if he saw his election "as a chance to maybe cool things down", Mr Albanese refused to give any ground. "The relationship with China will remain a difficult one," he said. "That has not changed. It is China that has changed, not Australia. And Australia should always stand up for our values. And we will in a government that I lead."
This gives the lie to Coalition politicians and conservative commentators who have been claiming a Labor government would likely cave in to Chinese demands.
On the subject of the famous list of 14 Chinese grievances released in November 2020, Mr Albanese is not for turning. "We reject all of them," he said. "We will determine our own values. We will determine Australia's future direction."
Much, of course, has changed since then when, after calling out Beijing over the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic, Canberra was placed in the freezer. Australia was, for quite a while, almost alone in standing up to blustering attacks and economic coercion by the Middle Kingdom.
The Morrison government, to its credit, did good work in resuscitating the Quad - the anti-autocratic partnership between Australia, America, India and Japan - and developing the AUKUS alliance with the US and the UK.
Mr Albanese, as the joint leaders' statement released after this week's Quad leaders' meeting in Tokyo indicates, intends to build on those strong foundations.
The leaders, who "reiterated our strong resolve to maintain the peace and stability of the region", also committed themselves to "respect for [the] sovereignty and territorial integrity of all states". That, when taken with President Biden's commitment to a US military response if China invades Taiwan, was a warning to Xi to keep his hands off the ROC.
It also appears the "freedom of navigation" exercises being carried out by the US, the UK, Australia and other nations in the East and South China Seas will continue for the foreseeable future.
"We will champion adherence to international law, particularly as reflected in the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, and the maintenance of freedom of navigation and overflight, to meet challenges to the maritime rules-based order, including in the East and South China Seas," the leaders said.
China, not surprisingly, reacted with a joint China-Russia air force drill near Japanese airspace, and the North Koreans, unhappy with the Quad's call for the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula, carried out another ballistic missile test.
While there are some who would argue the Quad's firm stance is provocative, and that Australia should seize on any olive branch China casts our way, appeasement has a poor track record when it comes to people such as Hitler, Stalin, Mussollini, Tojo Hideki, Saddam Hussein and Vladimir Putin.
The best way to deter President Xi from going down a similar path by, for example, invading Taiwan, is to make it plain doing so would cast his country into isolation, cutting off many of its key markets.
If China is serious about improving its relations with Australia, and indeed the Western world, it needs to end the economic coercion and scale back the hostile rhetoric. Placatory words just aren't enough.
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