You simply have to travel through China to understand what demographic transition and catch-up really mean: an immense challenge for the world.
Europe has more assets than it thinks.
When it provides itself with the commercial tools to counter dumping, as it is doing right now, it is surprising because of its unity, and it forces States to respect a minimum number of rules.
When it refuses to join the Silk Road in subservience – a project that was firstly designed for the world’s economy, to pay tribute to Chinese communism, it illustrates a strength that few countries can claim to have.
When Europe concludes a trade agreement with Japan, which is reluctant to be dictated to in the slightest way, it shows how attractive it is.
When Europe forces the UK back to the path of pragmatism, which has led to the loss of a few populist ideologists and to quit the EU on its conditions, Europe illustrates its immense soft power.
In the face of ‘illiberal’ nationalism and the pull towards autocracy, it might do even better if it privileged strategic thought into old national responses about the long-term of trade alone - if united, it thinks of itself as a source of power. When it revises its security and trade tools it has to be intransigent with its values and interests. It also has to adapt its policies without being naïve, because we now know that totalitarian communism is soluble in the dollar and the euro and that it can survive by copying our liberalism of old, by advocating yesterday’s free-trade, by giving lessons abroad, whilst maintaining tyranny at home.
Trading for example with China, not only means selling more designer handbags, some machine-tools or a few more cars; it means showing that it is wrong to promote a political regime which pretends that Human rights are not universal, that the rule of law is a Western invention, that prosperity is more important than freedom and that it is enough to feed a population monitored by Big Brother to organise life in society.
We should never forget to defend and promote our long-term interests, which are the only things that can guarantee the law, a democratic regime and the respect of the individual against the most cynical type of mercantilism invented by humankind. Everything else depends on it, our economic survival, likewise our political future.
The European Union is big enough to do this. It now has to show that it really wants to.