28 March 2013

Winner Take All

Written by Published in Latest books

The Chinese are on a global shopping spree with a mammoth of a shopping cart in tow. In a climate ridden with geopolitical struggles, many over natural resources, China is strolling the isles and picking products to its heart’s desire. The world’s second-largest economy is on a breathtaking binge –  one that poses a threat to our future, according to economist Dambisa Moyo

China’s economy only grew 7.8% in 2012, its lowest in 13 years, a stark contrast to Europe’s negative growth in the same period. As if that weren’t enough, the superpower is set to surpass America as the biggest economy on Earth around 2025. China’s ‘peaceful rise’, coined by the Communist Party to describe its foreign policy, has pervaded China’s growth agenda and successful expansion outwith it borders. Seemingly innocuous activities such as setting up farms and building infrastructure in Africa and Latin America, have seen development experts clap their hands with excitement. 

Winner Takes All, the latest book by Dambisa Moyo, zeroes in on China’s investments and strategies with great zest. In 2007, a Chinese company bought a mountain about half the size of Mount Everest in Peru for 3 billion dollars. Such facts pepper Moyo’s thesis providing the reader with a much-needed insight into how China has come to be the powerhouse it is today. In her thesis, Moyo argues China is the only power that has focused its national strategies on addressing our looming fate: running out of resources. The Harvard Doctorate commends China’s foresight but she does not equal it to a rosy future for human kind. Instead, she warns – what will be the financial and human effects of this race for increasingly scarce resources? 

‘Demographers now forecast that by 2050 there will be as many as 10 billon people living on the planet – a 40 percent increase in a mere forty years.’ In the second half of her book Zambian-born Dambisa Moyo revisits such facts, and draws a bleak image for our future. This book is worth reading for its punchy statistics and simple, if a bit hyperbolicprose. The reader will gain insight into a unique perspective to the China issue, namely that of a non-Western, African economist.   

Moyo deconstructs the economic issues of our time and delivers the context and analysis readers need to understand them. Her previous books, Dead Aid and How the West Was Lost, have questioned Western attitudes towards liberal aid programmes and contrasted them with those of developing countries. Winner Takes it All is refreshing in that it stands off an Eastern player with the West, examining China's role in the global commodity market. The reader is, simply put, enlightened with a well-researched pathological profile of a serial shopper.

Deng Xiaoping, a prominent Chinese politician, once said: ‘It doesn’t matter whether a cat is white or black as long as it catches mice.’ If Moyo is right, the cat, whether white or black, may well be responsible for the imminent 21st century resources conflict. 

Winner Take All by Dambisa Moyo (Penguin) £9.99

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