Hope is not only the result of economic growth. Hope means confidence, and young Asians are exuding the stuff, whereas young Europeans – arrogant towards others and diffident towards themselves – too often lack ‘appetite’ and cling to the status quo. Europeans also lack long-term thinking and curiosity about ‘the Other’. As a result, they know little about the history, culture and languages of Asia. By contrast, the many Chinese and Indians graduating from Western universities feel that they understand ‘what makes us tick’. That so many Asians study in the West – and so few Westerners do so in Asia – is not a sign of the superiority of the Western mind and model. On the contrary, it impoverishes our mindset. The need to open ourselves to the Asian mind, and even to some different societal models, does not imply that we should relinquish our values. The peace, compassion and co-operation that Asians admire are the direct product of values that some of them see as ‘Western’, and that, yes, we regard as ‘universal’. Given Asia’s rise, it is illusory for Europeans to consider relations with the biggest Asian power, China, only through the prism of human rights. Moreover, Europe’s ability to exert pressure on China is extremely limited, and may be least potent where Chinese domestic matters are concerned. Nevertheless, Europeans should not be deterred by the Chinese government’s anger at the awarding of the Nobel peace prize to the Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo. In the name of Europe’s core values, all EU ambassadors to Norway should make a point of attending the Nobel award ceremony – which the imprisoned Liu cannot – despite China’s call for them to stay away. It is simply a question of self-respect. Although the EU’s image has deteriorated, Asians still find Europe’s ‘sharing of sovereignty’ model appealing in many ways. For Mahbubani, the “lessons of Europe” are crystal-clear. If emerging Asia begins to look more “like a socially and politically harmonious Europe”, the world would be a much better place. At a time when Europeans are full of self-doubt, such praise is more than welcome. Europeans, unfortunately, too often fail to see the merits of their peaceful conquest over their own worst natures. Europeans should, in the same spirit of openness, ask themselves what they can learn from Asia. The problem, of course, is that the concept of Asia is largely a Western one. Asians do not perceive themselves as Asians in the way that most Europeans view themselves as Europeans. India’s historical patrimony is very different from China’s, for example. Yet it is legitimate to ask what, for Europeans looking at Asia, would be the equivalent of the “peace, compassion and co-operation” that Asians see in Europe. Could it be a combination of hope, energy, long-term thinking, and curiosity? Dominique Moïsi is the author of “The geopolitics of emotion”. © Project Syndicate, 2010. Kishore Mahbubani, a prominent Singaporean and a man often highly critical of Europe, was recently asked what Asia could learn from Europe. His reply: Europe was above all the continent of peace, compassion and co-operation. ‘Asia’ may not exist culturally, historically, religiously, socially and economically, the way that Europe does. It is a much more varied continent. But ‘Asians’ have been reflecting upon the European experiment for a long time. Enlightened Japanese elites are fascinated by Franco-German reconciliation. Could that model be applied to Japan’s relations with its former enemies, from Korea to China? And today, with the irresistible rise of a more assertive China, the example of a continent where the prospect of war between traditional enemies – or contemporary rivals – has simply disappeared is more attractive than ever. Some in China’s elite have recently discovered the Nordic social model, and Chinese delegations have been visiting regularly to see what lessons they can bring home. The reasoning is pragmatic: if the Chinese were reassured by the existence of a social-welfare state, they would probably save less and spend more, allowing the domestic market to take over from export-led growth.