ISLAMABAD – Chairman Pakistan-China Institute, Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed has said that Asia cannot afford any reversion to the confrontational ‘Great Game’ of the past.

In his message received from Beijing, Senator Mushahid while addressing the International Dialogue on ‘Cooperation and Understanding’ in Beijing, which he attended on the invitation of the Chinese Association of Friendship and International Understanding (CAFIU) said a ‘Greater South Asia’ was emerging that included China, Afghanistan, Iran and Myanmar, apart from the sub-continent’s seven states of Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan, plus the Maldives. And there is a ‘New Regionalism’ driven by economic and energy cooperation in which Pakistan has the potential to play a pivotal role, given its location and relations with various countries, he added.

Mushahid also condemned an attempt to revive a Cold War mindset with talk of ‘containment of the China threat’ by certain quarters in the West. Mushahid Hussain, who was among the 60 speakers from 15 countries of Asia, Africa, Europe and North America on the theme ‘Changing China in an Evolving World’, spoke about China’s historic transformation since his first visit to China in 1970 as a young teenage college student.

He referred to three unique features of China’s progress and peaceful rise.

First, China’s peaceful rise was based on soft power, in marked contrast to most other countries, which had risen through hard power, particularly use of military might.

China’s soft power like economy, products and services had received recognition in the recent public opinion poll of the BBC World Service, where China was more popular than the US and EU in most of the 22 countries polled by the survey, which was announced on May 10, he added.

He said, “Pakistan is amongst the countries at the top of the survey of these countries where China is the most popular of all foreign countries, at a whopping 76% popularity rating.” “Second, China had an excellent track record in poverty alleviation, lifting 500 million out of poverty within a generation, after the reform and opening up policies launched by the great Chinese visionary statesman, Deng Xiaoping.

“Third, with the upcoming 18th Congress of the Communist Party of China, in the last quarter of 2012, China has established a smooth and orderly system of political transition, something which most third World countries lack.

“In no other country is there a system of voluntary retirement upon reaching the age of 70, as is the case of China’s top leadership.

At the Congress, the 5th generation of leaders will take over the helmsman ship of the world’s most populous country.”

Mushahid Hussain also talked about the geopolitical context that defines the role of China and the region in a changing world.

He focused on the shifting balance of economic and political power from the West to the East in the 21st ‘Asian Century’, plus the failure of military might post-9/11 in Iraq and Afghanistan, which had underlined the ‘power of public opinion’.