It can no longer be pretended or avoided. The Chinese presence in Europe has now reached a significant level — a tipping point where it begins to influence the shape and direction of economic and social progress in the West in ways that require not a blind eye, or the occasional wringing of hands, but a clear and constructive response.

Take first Europe's main ports — the points at which the traded goods arrive and depart that are Europe's lifeblood. China is now heavily invested in key seaports all around the continent. These include Piraeus in Greece, Valencia and Bilbao in Spain, Sines in Portugal, Zeebrugge in the Netherlands, Genoa in Italy, and now, following a much publicized visit of Chinese leader Xi Jinping to Rome, the ancient key port of Trieste, giving access to the heartland trade routes of Central Europe.

In all it is estimated that China now controls one-tenth of European port capacity. At the latest tally it also owns four European airports, large wind farms in nine European countries, a mass of real estate in the City of London and some highly prominent European enterprises such as Volvo in Sweden, Pirelli in Italy and Syngenta in Switzerland.