Thursday, June 27, 2013

The China syndrome

A global resource meltdown is indeed imminent. Never before have natural resources been scooped from across the world with such impunity. China's breathtaking commodity campaign, be it for fossil fuel, minerals, land or water, has ripped mines and mountains of its riches across the world.

At a hefty fee of US$3 billion, China's Chinalco is smothering fifteen thousand feet high Mount Toromocho in Peru for the last speck of copper; much to the shock of its lower riparian China is unilaterally diverting Brahmaputra and Mekong rivers to quench thirst of its rapidly urbanizing north; and China's growing stakes in leading petrochemical companies in oil-producing countries is akin to virtual takeover. The world is literally at China's feet!

China may have genuine reasons for its insatiable demand for resources, having lured resource-rich poor countries in its growth journey. Given the fact that China will add 400 million people to its urban population in the next decade, upward mobile Chinese will require a lot of arable land, a lot of usable water, a lot of energy, and a lot of minerals. What will happen when China ostensibly has access to all available resources and the rest of world doesn't? Dambisa Moyo wonders if China's stealth global incursions don't trigger global tensions!

Is the world prepared to face up to hard facts of a bleak commodity outlook? Chinese ascendancy may go beyond impacting the commodity prices; it is strategically positioned to not just alter the landscape of how business is done but also how countries themselves are run. Moyo's thesis doesn't seem far-fetched; seeds of such discontent have started surfacing in countries where China has gone full throttle with its extractive businesses. Winner Take All is a fact-filled penetrating inquiry on the emerging reality the world should be ready to face up to.

Lamenting the international community's patchy record of working together on issue of global relevance, Moyo only hopes that a 'slowing down of Chinese economy' may dampen its irresistible demand on world resources. Amongst recent books on China’s expansion beyond the Great Wall that I have read, Winner Take All makes a significant contribution but not without taking a toll on the reader with its mass of statistics....Link

Winner Take All
by Dambisa Moyo 
Penguin, UK
257 pages, $26

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