It is the $22m (€15m) question. How does Europe deal with Chinese imports? That is the hourly rate of the trade deficit with the rising superpower and it is causing angst on the continent.
Even a liberal such as Peter Mandelson, the EU trade commissioner, says the figure is on Europe’s mind. Having praised China’s rise as an unalloyed good for Europe and the world, he has recently taken to wielding the stick with Beijing, warning of a backlash if it does not itself open up to foreign companies.
Mandelson wants a two-way street. China’s vast cheap labour force is bound to mean its exports increase, he says. But there should be a flow of imports of the kind of upmarket goods in which Europe specialises the other way. Service providers should have more opportunity in China’s domestic market. In the meantime, the backlash has started.