Dambisa Moyo: Is China the new idol for emerging economies?
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Dambisa Moyo: Is China the new idol for emerging economies?

“Give me liberty or give me death.” When Patrick Henry, the governor of Virginia, said these words in 1775, he could never have imagined just how much they would come to resonate with American generations to come. At the time, these words were earmarked and targeted against the British, but over the last 200 years, they’ve come to embody what many Westerners believe, that freedom is the most cherished value, and that the best systems of politics and economics have freedom embedded in them. Who could blame them? Over the past hundred years, the combination of liberal democracy and private capitalism has helped to catapult the United States and Western countries to new levels of economic development. In the United States over the past hundred years, incomes have increased 30 times, and hundreds of thousands of people have been moved out of poverty. Meanwhile, American ingenuity and innovation has helped to spur industrialization and also helped in the creation and the building of things like household appliances such as refrigerators and televisions, motor vehicles and even the mobile phones in your pockets. It’s no surprise, then, that even at the depths of the private capitalism crisis, President Obama said, “The question before us is not whether the market is a force for good or ill. Its power to generate wealth and to expand freedom is unmatched.” Thus, there’s understandably a deep-seated presumption among Westerners that the whole world will decide to adopt private capitalism as the model of economic growth, liberal democracy, and will continue to prioritize political rights over economic rights. However, to many who live in the emerging markets, this is an illusion, and even though the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was signed in 1948, was unanimously adopted, what it did was to mask a schism that has emerged between developed
and developing countries, and the ideological beliefs between political and economic rights. This schism has only grown wider. Today, many people who live in the emerging markets, where 90 percent of the world’s population lives, believe that the Western obsession with political rights is beside the point, and what is actually important is delivering on food, shelter, education and healthcare. “Give me liberty or give me death” is all well and good if you can afford it, but if you’re living on less than one dollar a day, you’re far too busy trying to survive and to provide for your family than to spend your time going around trying to proclaim and defend democracy. Now, I know many people in this room and around the world will think, “Well actually, this is hard to grasp,” because private capitalism and liberal democracy are held sacrosanct. But I ask you today, what would you do if you had to choose? What if you had to choose between a roof over your head and the right to vote? Over the last 10 years, I’ve had the privilege to travel to over 60 countries, many of them in the emerging markets, in Latin America, Asia, and my own continent of Africa. I’ve met with presidents, dissidents, policymakers, lawyers, teachers, doctors and the man on the street, and through these conversations, it’s become clear to me that many people in the emerging markets believe that there’s actually a split occurring between what people believe ideologically in terms of politics and economics in the West and that which people believe in the rest of the world. Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying people in the emerging markets don’t understand democracy, nor am I saying that they wouldn’t ideally like to pick their presidents or their leaders. Of course they would. However, I am saying that on balance, they worry more about where their living standard improvements are going to come from, and how it is their governments can deliver for them, than whether or not the government was elected by democracy. The fact of the matter is that this has become a very poignant question because there is for the first time in a long time a real challenge to the Western ideological systems of politics and economics, and this is a system that is embodied by China. And rather than have private capitalism,
they have state capitalism. Instead of liberal democracy,
they have de-prioritized the democratic system. And they have also decided to prioritize economic rights over political rights. I put it to you today that it is this system that is embodied by China that is gathering momentum amongst people in the emerging markets as the system to follow, because they believe increasingly that it is the system that will promise the best and fastest improvements in living standards in the shortest period of time. If you will indulge me, I will spend a few moments explaining to you first why economically they’ve come to this belief. First of all, it’s China’s economic performance over the past 30 years. She’s been able to produce record economic growth and meaningfully move many people out of poverty, specifically putting a meaningful dent in poverty by moving over 300 million people out of indigence. It’s not just in economics, but it’s also in terms of living standards. We see that in China, 28 percent of people had secondary school access. Today, it’s closer to 82 percent. So in its totality, economic improvement has been quite significant. Second, China has been able to meaningfully improve its income inequality without changing the political construct. Today, the United States and China are the two leading economies in the world. They have vastly different political systems and different economic systems, one with private capitalism, another one broadly with state capitalism. However, these two countries have the identical GINI Coefficient, which is a measure of income equality. Perhaps what is more disturbing is that China’s income equality has been improving in recent times, whereas that of the United States has been declining. Thirdly, people in the emerging markets look at China’s amazing and legendary infrastructure rollout. This is not just about China building roads and ports and railways in her own country — she’s been able to build 85,000 kilometers of road network in China and surpass that of the United States — but even if you look to places like Africa, China has been able to help tar the distance of Cape Town to Cairo, which is 9,000 miles, or three times the distance of New York to California. Now this is something that people can see and point to. Perhaps it’s no surprise that in a 2007 Pew survey, when surveyed, Africans in 10 countries said they thought that the Chinese were doing amazing things to improve their livelihoods by wide margins, by as much as 98 percent. Finally, China is also providing innovative solutions to age-old social problems that the world faces. If you travel to Mogadishu, Mexico City or Mumbai, you find that dilapidated infrastructure and logistics continue to be a stumbling block to the delivery of medicine and healthcare in the rural areas. However, through a network of state-owned enterprises, the Chinese have been able to go into these rural areas, using their companies to help deliver on these healthcare solutions. Ladies and gentlemen, it’s no surprise that around the world, people are pointing
at what China is doing and saying, “I like that. I want that. I want to be able to do what China’s doing. That is the system that seems to work.” I’m here to also tell you that there are lots of shifts occurring around what China is doing in the democratic stance. In particular, there is growing doubt among people in the emerging markets, when people now believe that democracy is no longer to be viewed as a prerequisite for economic growth. In fact, countries like Taiwan, Singapore, Chile, not just China, have shown that actually, it’s economic growth that is a prerequisite for democracy. In a recent study, the evidence has shown that income is the greatest determinant of how long a democracy can last. The study found that if your per capita income is about 1,000 dollars a year, your democracy will last about eight and a half years. If your per capita income is between 2,000 and 4,000 dollars per year, then you’re likely to only get 33 years of democracy. And only if your per capita income is above 6,000 dollars a year will you have democracy come hell or high water. What this is telling us is that we need to first establish a middle class that is able to hold the government accountable. But perhaps it’s also telling us that we should be worried about going around the world and shoehorning democracy, because ultimately we run the risk of ending up with illiberal democracies, democracies that in some sense could be worse than the authoritarian governments that they seek to replace. The evidence around illiberal democracies is quite depressing. Freedom House finds that although 50 percent of the world’s countries today are democratic, 70 percent of those countries are illiberal in the sense that people don’t have free speech or freedom of movement. But also, we’re finding from Freedom House in a study that they published last year that freedom has been on the decline every year for the past seven years. What this says is that for people like me who care about liberal democracy, is we’ve got to find a more sustainable way of ensuring that we have a sustainable form of democracy in a liberal way, and that has its roots in economics. But it also says that as China moves toward being the largest economy in the world, something that is expected to happen by experts in 2016, that this schism between the political and economic ideologies of the West and the rest is likely to widen. What might that world look like? Well, the world could look like more state involvement and state capitalism; greater protectionisms of nation-states; but also, as I just pointed out a moment ago, ever-declining political rights and individual rights. The question that is left for us in general is, what then should the West be doing? And I suggest that they have two options. The West can either compete or cooperate. If the West chooses to compete with the Chinese model, and in effect go around the world and continue to try and push an agenda of private capitalism and liberal democracy, this is basically going against headwinds, but it also would be a natural stance for the West to take because in many ways it is the antithesis of the Chinese model of de-prioritizing democracy, and state capitalism. Now the fact of the matter is, if the West decides to compete, it will create a wider schism. The other option is for the West to cooperate, and by cooperating I mean giving the emerging market countries the flexibility to figure out in an organic way what political and economic system works best for them. Now I’m sure some of you in the room will be thinking, well, this is like ceding to China, and this is a way, in other words, for the West to take a back seat. But I put it to you that if the United States and European countries want to remain globally influential, they may have to consider cooperating in the short term in order to compete, and by that, they might have to focus more aggressively on economic outcomes to help create the middle class and therefore be able to hold government accountable and create the democracies that we really want. The fact of the matter is that instead of going around the world and haranguing countries for engaging with China, the West should be encouraging its own businesses to trade and invest in these regions. Instead of criticizing China for bad behavior, the West should be showing how it is that their own system of politics and economics is the superior one. And instead of shoehorning democracy around the world, perhaps the West should take a leaf out of its own history book and remember that it takes a lot of patience in order to develop the models and the systems that you have today. Indeed, the Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer reminds us that it took the United States nearly 170 years from the time that the Constitution was written for there to be equal rights in the United States. Some people would argue that today there is still no equal rights. In fact, there are groups who would argue that they still do not have equal rights under the law. At its very best, the Western model speaks for itself. It’s the model that put food on the table. It’s the refrigerators. It put a man on the moon. But the fact of the matter is, although people back in the day used to point at the Western countries and say, “I want that, I like that,” there’s now a new person in town in the form of a country, China. Today, generations are looking at China and saying, “China can produce infrastructure, China can produce economic growth, and we like that.” Because ultimately, the question before us, and the question before seven billion people on the planet is, how can we create prosperity? People who care and will pivot towards the model of politics and economics in a very rational way, to those models that will ensure that they can have better living standards in the shortest period of time. As you leave here today, I would like to leave you with a very personal message, which is what it is that I believe we should be doing as individuals, and this is really about being open-minded, open-minded to the fact that our hopes and dreams of creating prosperity for people around the world, creating and meaningfully putting a dent in poverty for hundreds of millions of people, has to be based in being open-minded, because these systems have good things and they have bad things. Just to illustrate, I went into my annals of myself. That’s a picture of me. Awww. (Laughter) I was born and raised in Zambia in 1969. At the time of my birth, blacks were not issued birth certificates, and that law only changed in 1973. This is an affidavit from the Zambian government. I bring this to you to tell you that in 40 years, I’ve gone from not being recognized as a human being to standing in front of the illustrious TED crowd today to talk to you about my views. In this vein, we can increase economic growth. We can meaningfully put a dent in poverty. But also, it’s going to require that we look at our assumptions, assumptions and strictures that we’ve grown up with around democracy, around private capitalism, around what creates economic growth and reduces poverty and creates freedoms. We might have to tear those books up and start to look at other options and be open-minded to seek the truth. Ultimately, it’s about transforming the world and making it a better place. Thank you very much. (Applause)

About James Carlton

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100 thoughts on “Dambisa Moyo: Is China the new idol for emerging economies?

  1. Your leaders keep you that way to control their fiefdoms and resources. You give up your liberty, for economic success, you deserve neither. Everything is relative.

  2. It is nice to see an idealized westerner launch a competition of ideology towards a country trying to create a new ideology every year.
    Why do you want to create more confidence while not just choose the right thing to do?

  3. Not only are the Chinese smart and innovative, they are also hard working. All traits that will allow them to lead the world into the future.
    Well reading minds all see from the prejudices coming from westernized views that the east and west has very different economic values. Many of you western friends have good life's without having to worry about survival how so in your blood stained economic systems. But China was having nothing more than a torn country after the war, Chinese all work very hard for a better life.

  4. amazing presentation. there is a Chinese saying—the practice is an unique standard used to verify the truth .

  5. No, Oh, they stole in USA technology. Tunnels were invention of the usa and they did not pay for the Copyright. This is why trump started the Trade War. Making USA great again.


  7. I think everyone is going to be surprised when the 21st Century ends and the United States is still the most dominant military, industrial, technological, and economic power in the world.

  8. 1. How many people want to immigrant to China? 2. Why most high level CCP leaders moved their children and relatives and their money out to western countries? Is there something you don’t know but they really know? 3. Why more than half of the people who owned more than certain assets, I don’t remember how much it is, maybe ten million RMB, is immigrating to western country? Is there something they experienced much deeper than you? 4. Mouth or feet, in which one I should believe?

  9. 中国中学的政治课本上有一句话“经济基础决定上层建筑”,这里的“上层建筑”指的是“政治制度”。政治制度的改变更多的是来自经济发展之后的需求所推动。举个例子来说,英国的民主制度就是因为工业革命爆发了生产力,产生了大批的资产阶级(这里的资产阶级包括工厂主、资本家、小手工业者,大致相当于当时的中产阶级),而这些资产阶级需要更多的政治权力来保证他们的资产安全,所以这些资产阶级才强迫英国王室签署了《大宪章》。而这才是西方现代民主的开端。现在西方国家对外推行的民主,比如普选,有哪个西方国家真的这么做了吗?

  10. The west got their wealth thru colonization and robbed others' land , resources, gold, slavery for cheap labour..etc to gain an unfairly start in the race..India is the world biggest democracy..who wanna migrate to India????? Almost no one so many indians are so desperate to leave India… democracy means better lives????? Of cos no

  11. Incredible. How people can be blinded by desperation and poverty that they actually support giving up their freedoms for short term gains.

  12. 中国没先发生工业革命,是因为中国和周边国家没有竞争关系,没有亡国风险,只有附庸关系,因此上层建筑没有寻求新技术的动力,而欧洲国家之间实力比较均衡,因此有动力发展新技术来壮大自己,因此导致了崇尚技术的社会,导致了第一次工业革命,导致了英国女王的日不落帝国,后来由于大量资本家崛起,他们要求更多的政治影响,才产生了民主,直到今天,美国也是财团支持候选人,才能当选,当选上还要维护这部分财团的利益,比如川普背后的枪支保护协会,只要川普在任,美国就不可能禁枪。5G华为先发明的,美国只能用低劣5G,你说富强跟民主哪来的关系?

  13. The problem is the west doesn’t really want every other country to have high quality democracy. They enjoy the present world order very much and why do they want any change…

  14. Sometimes democracy and freedom are the props of the capitalists. American capitalists deceive the American people. Democracy and freedom are the best, because they don’t want to pay a penny to satisfy the people. Then the capitalist controls the parliament and the government to continue to make a lot of money. The wealthy's assets are hundreds of millions of times that of the middle class. Is it richer than the average person?

  15. Chinese economy is actually good and enticing but if we dig deeper you will see they use intellectual theft, currency manipulation, concentration camp labor, organ selling and harvesting, and so on. Theres no true equality in this country where property rights is never guarante thats the reason why millions of chinese leave the county and obtain australian, american, canadian citizenship whenever they can. What could we expect from the country who would murder and masacre its people to stay in power.

  16. 民主是正确的追求,但是虚伪的政治人物才是罪魁祸首,用民主来陪葬的政治人物才是民主的最大敌人

  17. Several years later and she is spot on. There is going to be major conflict soon to keep the current status.

  18. 有一种悲劇叫做美國土著 男人被活活折磨至死 然後被斬首剖開取皮製成床墊 女人在丈夫做的床上被白人玩弄 丈夫的頭顱就掛在牆上 如果今天中國人亞洲人有走錯一步 明天的牆上就是我們的頭顱

  19. I understand about Africa but why China has to deliver medicine and healthcare to South Asia when Bangladesh exports medicine to 151 countries across the world?

  20. Really interesting idea, but I believe she ignore one truth about USA, the act of establishing an accountable government has not been possible for a long time. If the United States wants to establish an account-based government, it must first change the situation of separation of powers, let the central government obtain greater administrative power, legislation and judicial power. If you want to break through the system of separation of powers, you must first obtain the consent of the Congress. Then the congressmen are actually serving the capitalists, so this proposal will be vetoed. Of course, there is no solution. It is to turn Congress into the people’s congress rather than the capitalist’s congress, so we must propose to Congress to transform the U.S. government. Becoming a government that serves the majority, but over the years, such proposals have appeared hundreds of times, but each time they have been rejected, so the enemy is on Capitol Hill, endless loop.

  21. 学到:

  22. She missing Good Governance, Free of Corruption, good education/ morals system Respect rule of law & social/civic responsibility needed to be presented in society for it to develop economically.

  23. Just as the West respect the diversity of human individualism, the West must also respect the diversity of political & economic systems of other countries.

  24. Check the history book and you will find that China had state-owned companies at a thousand years ago, like mining and selling salt, cheap-renting houses, to control the country.

  25. 上传下中文字幕版的呗。搬运一下去b站
    PLZ upload the chinese subtitle's version。 so I cant sent to bilibili

  26. 西方所谓的民主是真的民主?西方的自由是真的自由?资本主义最先进?自由市场是发展经济的基础?这些统统要打问号!预设立场这天就没法聊了!

  27. Several factors contributes to the fast growing of Chinese economy, one among others is the Land Reform revolution in the 1950s, which is rarely observed by those who are interested in studying China.

  28. 个人觉得,别看西方政府都指责中国政府独裁,威权,但是他们打心眼里绝对嫉妒这种模式,但是做不到而已

  29. 其实你观察一下身边的人,你会发现大部分人都很忙,没时间管什么民主和不民主的事情。老百姓过度关心政治体制是一种反常现象,说明老百姓发现在这种体制下他们无法改善自己的生活质量。人民最关心的是他们的生活诉求要得到满足,这是政府要做的事情,很明显,中国政府做的还不错,就不要老去纠结他的出身,何况新中国是我们人民的选择。相反,如果民主不能解决人民关切的议题,照样被老百姓轰下台,最典型的就是魏玛共和国被德国人民唾弃、纳粹德国上台。

  30. It is not in the "western/european mindset to be equal. They know no other way to function. They are studying ways in how to usurp China. Trust me, Afrika will be nuked. I hate to be the bearer of bad news. The west knows what they must do but it's not in them. They've put to much negative energy into this realm that "karma" is do them.

  31. Well paid story about-TELL GOOD ABOUT CHINA!
    shame on you to get paid, while millions of Uighurs languishing in chinese concentration camps ,where families ripped apart fathers in one camp, mothers in another and children in the third! and the rest who outside the camps brutally assimilated into chinese culture.
    Tell better to Africa how to pay off billions of debt trap made in China!

  32. Well paid story about-TELL GOOD ABOUT CHINA!
    shame on you to get paid, while millions of Uighurs languishing in chinese concentration camps ,where families ripped apart fathers in one camp, mothers in another and children in the third! and the rest who outside the camps brutally assimilated into chinese culture.
    Tell better to Africa how to pay off billions of debt trap made in China!

  33. While the speaker is advocating the world should give room to China for its authoritarian approach, China isn't giving room to Taiwan for its hard-earned democracy.

  34. Nowadays, the ideological fanaticism of people's freedom of democracy is the same as the fanaticism of religion in the middle ages. It make people lose rational and think independently. The freedom of democracy is just a means of making life more happy, and it's never a standard.

  35. There are also already calls for a boycott of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing over outrage at the gross violations of human rights in the western Chinese region of Xinjiang, where at least hundreds of thousands and likely well over 1 million people, mostly Muslim, are incarcerated in a large network of camps. If there were images of military violence in Hong Kong to go along with the documented horrors in Xinjiang, boycott calls would be amplified dramatically. The June 4 option is there, but it is not an appealing one.

  36. to wit: the GINI Coefficient ~ at the present (2019) time, the need to pay $10 and greater amounts to secure a decent meal in California USA is getting more and more difficult to handle AND buy raw groceries to make up a decent balanced meal has gotten so expensive where buying by volume is wasteful because food spoils in short time ~ "somethings" the top 1% do not care to understand nor willingly know nor acknowledge ~

  37. Democracy? you know what democracy is to us Chinese? that's not a good word, that's a joke, a joke you westerns made to cheer the world up, it's a word we use to ridicule(those who really believe in it, like the woman).
    In fact, we live with happiness and safety——but do you? I am afraid not.
    Your freedom is not the freedom we want(you guys really like guns, right?), the difference is the culture. you believe you are right, but we believe we are right too, just because we are different so you define that "Chinese do NOT have democracy, they need to be saved", how ridiculous!
    In China, we say "a man who always wants to teach others is a wise guy". who do you think is "the wise guy"? YOU, you westerns. Countries, civilizations like these, have a "not-very -long" history, with ONLY 10% of the population, want to teach us, how can I say? RIDICULOUS.

  38. Us founded under the crown 1607. Patrick henry: give me liberty 1775.
    Traitors and now they have lost the whole country, should have stayed under the crown. Their little stunt lasted till 1865.

  39. Bullshit , USA just rule on oceans and that power provide wealth and this lead to economic freedom , then to innovation and even democracy

  40. But developing countries become democracies after the middle-class grows: S Korea, Taiwan, etc. Democracy is a sign of grown-up maturity.

  41. 一个国家是不是发达且有前途,不是“是不是德谟克拉西”能够决定的。而是整体的国民素质,教育水平,科研能力,经济政治等一系列政策,和其他多种重要的因素共同决定的。

  42. great talk, but there is no stopping the great china now. sorry too late, and by the way, the african states would serve themselves well if the rid their nations of the white man, and his presence all together, and so would the islamic nations

  43. western democracies were built off the backs of the developing countries where they forcefully took people as slaves, and gained capital via extreme reparations and continued exploitation. They still have this colonial mind set today where they feel like they have the right to interfere and tell other people what they should do with the own country with little or no understanding of the native culture and history unique to those places. They are disguising themselves as a wolf in sheep's clothing with respect to bringing "human rights". It is hypocrisy in the highest degree.

  44. Well you clearly are buying into the ccp abit here, just buy showing taiwan as a part of china on the map you clearly have abit of a bias.

  45. It would be interesting to see how they will turn out but they have to do it at their own risks for sure.

  46. Democracy in the US was abhored by the founders; it was feared and suppressed by the plantation owners, bankers, industrialists and merchants of the 19th century, transformed into just a myth by the advertising industry and media in the 20th century, and finally buried by the neoliberals and neocons of the 21st century. It never had more than a brief breath in the United States and "freedom" has always been the freedom to exploit the masses by the corporations and the capitalist ruling class.

  47. a brilliant speech from a brilliant person; it's always great to get a vision from someone who has a global point of view

  48. The Chinese system is not for everyone.
    People have bashed the CCP for so long they are blind to its intricacies. It's a meritocratic machine, and test and learn model, and a harmony through conflict system.
    You can't just slap that onto any country

  49. China is the new IDIOT for emerging economies. China will loss all the investment over the foreign countries and become bankrupt in debts.

  50. Democracy is like the apple snow white ate, it looks attractive and it kills. There is no true democracy in the west because they know it causes division. The west has been supporting and funding separatists all over the world to mess up their countries, backed their rights to split the country. But see what they are doing, Texas, Scotland, Quebec, Catalonia. When it comes to their own countries they just won’t let go.
    Democracy is a dream for all of the humankind to pursue, but when you are starve to death, I wonder if you have the strength to walk to the voting venue.

  51. Love those shoes. Lauding China? Seriously, they've held their people back for half a century. If they were Taiwan, they'd have been the most powerful economy in the world … in the 1970's.

  52. Way better than what Steven Bannon’s pitch on Claws of red dragon interview released today. This is a fair view and most of the westerns have very biased views.

  53. 说的很好,没有基础的民主都是狭隘的民主,台湾和香港走的就是狭隘民主,甚至可以说更像民粹,可笑的是他们追求民主的同时其实是在不停侮辱着民主LOL

  54. but why many chinese busenessman is robbed in africa , chinese want to help afica become better , why aficans do such horrible things to chinese , why why why ?

  55. Michael Jackson's song falls on many deaf ears with no heels…. "Heal the world, make it a better place for you and me….and the entire human race."

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