As World Politics is not a zero sum game, the West doesn’t have to lose out when the East is rising, said a German expert on Saturday.

Collaboration focusing on the elements connecting the two sides rather than dividing lines will benefit all, said Berthold Kuhn, Senior Adviser at the Berlin based non-partisan think tank Dialogue of Civilisations (DOC) Research Institute.

“The East is definitely rising. Sixty percent of global growth is now attributed to China and India,” he told in an interview on the sidelines of the 17th annual Rhodes Forum themed “Global (dis)order: Towards dialogue-based worldviews,” which was held on Friday and Saturday.

Dozens of policy makers, scholars and business leaders from 50 countries who gathered on the Greek island agreed that facing common challenges like poverty, inequalities and climate change, countries should better boost cooperation to address them in order to achieve sustainable growth and equality for all rather than barricade themselves behind walls.

Kuhn praised China’s efforts to reduce poverty. “It is of course a great accomplishment. Moving 800 million people out of poverty I think is one of the reasons why China is getting so much respect and admiration by developing countries.”

For China, challenges are still there as are in the West, the expert noted.

“We have growth, but also inequality and this is source for tension. Even in Europe we have big divides and social unrest and populist forces. We can produce growth, but that does not translate into fair chances for all and then we are having a problem,” Kuhn explained.

“We face similar challenges. We need to live up to the challenge of climate change and China has realised the threat of climate change very early and introduced a lot of great policies and is even leading in terms of electro-mobility and investments in renewable energy,” he said.

“Still many people in Germany are ignorant about the efforts China is making,” he added.

He said he believes it is important to promote dialogue and to leave aside the overplayed differences.

Regarding the Western concern about China-proposed initiatives such as the Belt & Road with a focus on infrastructure development, Kuhn suggests that Europeans sit together with Chinese and discuss more to make it more inclusive.

“I think we should give up our very strong reservations in the EU (European Union) and should try to influence also the BRI (Belt & Road Initiative) in terms of sustainability criteria for example,” he said.

Cooperation can continue and should continue even if some of the EU countries are not willing to join in, he noted.

“Cooperation is going on and it is important to keep it open,” he said.

The Rhodes Forum, organised by DOC, aims to be an independent platform for dialogue that brings together diverse perspectives from developed and developing countries in a non-confrontational and constructive spirit to forge shared worldviews.