By David Blair for The Daily Telegraph:
But the qualification – on present trends – matters a lot.
Far from being unstoppable, China’s breakneck economic expansion has been described as “unsustainable” by no less an authority than the country’s outgoing premier, Wen Jiabao.
He stressed the problem of “unbalanced” growth, fuelled by state-led investment rather than exports or domestic consumption.
The danger is that investment on this scale cannot continue forever, particularly as much of it has already gone badly wrong.
In the process, massive debts have been accumulated. This year, China’s growth has fallen sharply to a predicted 8%.
So this is just the moment for a good China book, soberly assessing the country’s prospects, refusing to assume that the future must be like the past, and spelling out how the fortunes of Asia’s giant will affect the rest of us.
Unfortunately, Dambisa Moyo has written nothing of the kind. This Zambian economist became famous with Dead Aid, a trenchant attack on the development industry.
In Winner Take All: The Race for the World’s Resources, she has produced a flawed and frustrating book, simplistic, poorly written, careless with facts and largely devoid of originality.
Aside from one paragraph on page 90, nothing in Winner Take All suggests that Moyo has travelled anywhere, seen anything for herself, or interviewed anyone.
Instead, this book clearly owes much to Google: the author relies on reports downloaded from the United Nations and sundry think-tanks.
She focuses on China’s impact on the global commodity market, rightly emphasising how this has touched all our lives.
Moyo thinks this will go on and on, powered by an unstoppable Chinese economy. Perhaps she is right, but the grounds for doubting whether the future will be a straight line from the past deserve a hearing. Instead, she barely mentions them: Wen’s worries about the future viability of China’s model are not even considered.
- Winner Take All: China’s Race for Resources and What It Means for the World by Dambisa Moyo
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