Thursday, May 23, 2013

Winner Take All – Book Review

WinnerTakeAll The Chinese are everywhere.  That’s one take away from Dambisa Moyo’s Winner Take All: China’s Race for Resources and What It Means for the World, but it’s not the only one.  In this fairly short but very extensive look at China’s investments, purchases and loans around the world, Moyo explores the whys, wheres and hows of China’s past and future development.

The big takeaway is that China is the Little Red Hen, working steadily and surely while the rest of the world is the other barn animals off playing.  China, and only China, is preparing for the future.  China is purchasing, excavating and storing resources it will need to continue developing, resources that are limited and for which the world will face shortages in the future.

Most surprising to me, China isn’t only working out deals with other developing countries, but also with countries that like to consider themselves world powers.  I knew about many of China’s dealings with Zambia, and I’d heard some rumblings of China’s loans to the US.  But, I had no idea how extensive China's network is.  I didn’t know, for example, that China attempted to buy the port of Long Beach or that it has 25 year deals with Eastern European countries for oil supplies.

China has been accused of neo-colonialism.  But, as Moyo points out, China's activities may have some similarities to past colonial powers’ activities, but China’s approach is very different.  China is building partners and working to create win-win situations where both China and the host country get something they need.  This builds good will, strong good will that is already taking hold.  Many developing countries already view China far more favorably than traditional donor countries like the US.

Moyo’s work is well-researched and her premises and conclusions well-backed by her extensive economic background.  There are a few spots in the book where the economic language and ideas get pretty heavy and require a good working knowledge of econ.  However, even for those who do not have such a background, this book is worth a read.  Most of it is very accessible and Moyo does a good job explaining some of the complex issues.  And the subject matter is highly important.

This is one of those books I hope our leaders read.  I recommend it for you, too.

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