February 20, 2020
Dambisa Moyo: Is China the new idol for emerging economies?

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)

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

  1. Am I the only one who sees this? Democracy not the answer, it's the problem! By Dambisa own admission
    it's a failed sysytem as @ 9:40 she states "The evidence around illiberal democracies is quite depressing."
    "Freedom House finds that even though 50% of the world's countries today are democracies, 70% of them are illiberal in the sense that they don't have free speech or freedom of movement.(Which a minimum of critical thinking might suggest that this "illiberalism causing depression" certainly had a maturation period
    of years if not decades in order to fully mature into the beast that it is!) And the response from those
    that would be our overlords dictating our sense of moral and civic duty, would respond much like the common man might reconcile this dilemma "Well at least it's better than a dictatorship" or maybe even more depressing the platitude of absolute resignation to one's fate "That's life!" In fact it's far from iife much more akin to death. As I understand the system the only difference between a democracy and a dictatorship is that in a democracy you get to choose your dictator!
    No, the answer for humanity is to recognise that the human condition is predicated on the spiritual
    aspect of man being understood to be primary and the inevitable flow of wisdom that emanates from such
    a mindset dictates that "only the acknowledgement of and a strict adherence to a lethally accurate,
    finely tuned moral compass will guarantee humanity's future." In my model, the widow, the orphan,
    the hungry and the poor should be catered on an "as needs" basis first which not only guarantees
    the giver their own safety net should they need it, but also makes them feel good about expressing their
    own humanity by giving to those who are in need. Consequently they are now in a sense, free to pursue
    their desire to acquire their pot of gold if that is their wish, unencumbered by a guilty conscience!

  2. The USA the super Democracy and the greatest world professor of democracy do not build :road-railway-airfield-schools-hospitals-dams etc …China is building these and the Africans see-touch-walk-study-play on them…So Americans let China go on doing them.

  3. 在如何解决贫困人口的问题上,中国政府最有发言权,因为过去三十年一直都在解决这个问题,而且解决的还不错,在如何搞创新科技,高品质教育方面,老牌欧洲强国和美国最有资格说话,因为他们已经不需要考虑人们下一餐有没有的吃和能不能吃饱的问题

  4. When China had democracy before 1949, KMT allows Free speech and free protest , then CCP took over China steps by steps , it is understandable CCP doesn’t want any other party to copy his measure.

  5. 最简单的就是打嘴炮,反正什么都不用做,没有成本的骂共产党,不用做任何事,不用付任何责任。除了打嘴炮骂我们五毛党,还能干啥。只能蜗居在小角落,做自己的民主春秋大梦。

  6. Russia, Africa, India, Asia and even the Muslim nations in the Middle East DO NOT fear China.
    They can PROSPER with China because China is looking for friendly partners NOT hostile competitors.
    It doesn't take much for America to understand this !!

  7. If you like this talk, you will also enjoy Eric X Li's talk, a read insider's view and why democracy is not one-size-fit-all. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s0YjL9rZyR0&t=46s

  8. China commies are so greedy .. wanting it all .. copying .. stealing and trying to make all in china 2025 .. then making money as loan shark on the corrupted countries being hooked into debt traps Belt Road Initiative.. as a loan shark china expanding its muscle in military especially in the navy .. to go around robbing others’ sovereign.. islands and sea .. to go around collecting debts from those corrupted countries if daring not to pay back massive debts.. meaning their sovereign will be seized..

  9. This thot has no idea what she's talking about. Little does she know China is a house of cards, with ulterior motives. It's sad how naive she is, little does she know they help poor countries in order to occupy key strategic locations to expand their power. They are the ones supporting the tragedy of the Venezuelan people by supporting the Maduro regime. It saddens me she put in so much hard work, but everything she states falls to pieces, when she misses the fact that China is a communist corrupt authoritarian regime.

  10. Income inequality means freedom. Do we need to equalize grades in college now? So someone that studies really hard and gets better grades than someone that parties too much, and gets bad grades should be considered greedy? Should we penalize people with high grades and redistribute their grades to less performing students? No. Never. Nor should we ever look at income inequality as something that should be equalized.

  11. For the past 200 years, the rise power of Western world is simply beacuse science and technological development and plunder other countries, democracy is just a consequence.
    Pour countries fight for a democracy rather than hardwork for bread and house is just a JOKE.
    This deeply because the developed countries don't want them to be catched up.So we can understand why they force the pour countries to "Democratization". Becasue they don't really want you to be rich or have a good development to threat and challenge their leadership!! Ukraine,Syria,Libya too many examples.
    As we all kown,Saudi Arabia is a Monarchy country. They have emperor!They can even send spy agent to kill journalist
    in a foreign contrie's embassy just because the journalist don't agree with the authorities.(Wikipedia:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Assassination_of_Jamal_Khashoggi).
    SO Why does the western don't "Democratization" this kind of contry which don't have democarcy even govened by Saudi royal family?
    Because ,Saudi Arabia is an ally of the United States,they buy weapons form US and sell oil as well.
    SO can we draw a conclusion that:
    Western mind is “Double standard” :
    IF you are my ally you can even be a Authoritarian EMPEROR!ELSE IF you are not my ally you are my competitor such as China THEN no matter what you do you are not a democracy contry.
    And here is my question:Why we shouldn't let the expert do what they are good at ?
    I don't thik One person one vote will select a good president who are good at running a coutry.
    Democracy and populism is hard to distinguish.

  12. China is the only major industry country who build industry system totally based on people,s hardworking and intelligence and equal competition on global market without any colony interest.

  13. But democracy shouldn't be the final solution for human being. We should always explore and find the best way for ourselves, not necessarily the China Model or the Western Model, but a model that fits each country's culture.

  14. Need to correct this lady Dr. at 8:45, "Countries like Taiwan, Singapore, Chile"—-please be aware that Taiwan is not a country. Taiwan is one part of China. The KMT lost the civil war (1945-1949) with CCP, then they withdraw from China mainland to Taiwan island. As a piece of strong evidence, China and the United States officially established diplomatic relations on January 1, 1979, the United States recognizes the government of the People's Republic of China as the sole legal government of China and Taiwan as part of China.

  15. The number of people lifted out of poverty is now 6 million since this talk. China plans to eliminate people living under the poverty line in China by 2020 – not killing them, but enabling them to help themselves. And the middle class is now growing and growing. Ignore this market at your own peril.

  16. Ms. Moyo does not possess the insight into how China would definitely remain in dire situation economically had America and test of developed nations believed in the best way to contribute to world peace was to convert the vast poverty-stricken China be lifted out of that miserable system by giving its people of the opportunity to earn a living first, however meager that maybe. History has proven that neither right wing nod left wing extremist countries can lift its people out of poverty or provide political stability for true long term economic growth. Soon after talk, China’s chairmen Xi made himself potentially permanent dictator of that country by changing its constitution in 2017. I wonder what her view of China today? If she still holds same view, then she is like Chamberlain of pre-WW II Britain, an unfortunate lack of foresight and courage as well as true intellect to know what is good for the world on the long term.

  17. Why do we have to say I want that instead of creating it yourself for your own people… If chiba is a good model, then get the inspiration and get to work!

  18. Western countries: Democracy is a pre-requisite for economic growth … …

    Karl Marx: base determines superstructure

    Now I know why western countries don't want people to read about Marxism.

  19. 这话反过来听就是说民主是个奢侈品适合败家。现在台湾天天吵的不可开交,英国的苏格兰要闹独立,美国一次次选出低能总统。民主只是一种调和社会内部矛盾的方法,现在看明显还是个烂方法,连儒家都比不了。

  20. The notion that you can convince a "Democracy" that believes it is successful to change will be next to impossible. Fact to the matter is China is changing the world because it understands what power and unity means. Western society means Democracy is good if one group/demographic has sustained growth at everyone else expense…….. Truth will always be a bitter pill to swallow……

  21. To say other emerging markets can do what China did is false. China was in a perfect storm where it had the demographics and infrastructure to become the factory of the world and accumulated tremendous surplus capital. It was also able to use the shield as an emerging economy to skirt the WTO rules.

  22. under democratic philosophy ,westerncountries has piled up worlds highest debt of 40 trillions dollars at the expenses of Asian countries. china it self has 3 trillion dollar surplus and india is next. if india follows Chinese system or singaporian systemthen asia rules the world and in future if  never gets deceived  by west . like both countries were for 0 to 1600  years  with 40 pct of world GDP. both countries were victims of west from 1600 to 1850  until they woke up. now both r under right leader shipso lets see what happens in nwxt 50 years.

  23. The situation is way worse because a lot of NGOs use on the ground agent to promote "Democracy". These agents consider thee jobs just as a way to make money. civil society grassroots organizations also look at all this democracy circus just as a way to make money and so on and so on up to the "democratically" elected senators etc…
    All this leads to totally non functional states.
    One would understand repeating a mistake twice but continuously repeating a behavior and continuously denouncing it's outcome shows that there might e some hidden intentions behind the promotion of democracy

  24. 说到底,中国和西方有不同的经济政治观。西方至今认为是民主政治使他们繁荣,而我们坚持马克思的观点,经济基础决定上层建筑,这个视频里的数据也印证了这一观点。西方政客未必不明白这个道理,他们只是不希望中国繁荣。西方列强和日本,说到底,对中国有负罪感,他们太清楚自己曾经对中国做过什么了。与其说他们不能接受一个黄种人国家的崛起或一个非民主国家的崛起,不如说,他们害怕被清算。

  25. besides the Scandinavian who have their own resources, western developed not through democracy but colonialism, pirating resources from colonies.

  26. 从建国开始差不多七八亿贫困人口在中国脱贫,全世界三分之二的人口在中国脱贫,你说呢3亿人……呵呵

  27. western countries like usa, uk… they become developed countries not because of democracy, it is because they rob,steal,or war with other weak countries. So westerners stop talk bullshit~like democracy or human right. instead, all countries govn on the earth is managing their people, that what country work.

  28. China also took farmer's land and forced them to move into the city and told them they had to like it. But that's okay because it helped make China richer.

  29. Dambisa Moyo
    Your words issued 6 years ago via Ted holds true, There is a universal truth, one which does not ever fall out of favour, and that is to have economic prosperity and stability. All humanity first and foremost, need the security of food and shelter before anything else.
    I'm in love with this woman, she is articulate, intelligent and tend to see positives without denigrating others.
    Bravo, I hope you get the widest exposure to your positive and prescient views and analysis.

  30. I like her view of developing the middle class first to keep the government accountable. As someone from the Philippines, I am just so sick of seeing politics played like a circus: people making big promises during elections and doing nothing once they get to the seat of power.

    I also noticed that democracies tend to lend themselves to elite interest groups, as the ones most probably ending up in power are those willing to outspend someone else in advertising dollars.

    One more thing I like about China is long term planning, because these advanced infrastructures are impossible to achieve with short-term presidencies of 4-8 years.

  31. 6 years later: 'Democracy can be worse than authoritarian state' – proven in Hong Kong; 'Increasing protectionism' – proven in the US. The west choose to compete rather than cooperating. 
    Democracy has an intrinsic virus in, it's called populism.

  32. Name me one Western country that has not built its wealth from slavery, colonialism, narcotics export, exploitation of poor nations or fraud, and I will believe representative democracy is the cause, rather than the result, of prosperity.

  33. The US think that they hold the ultimate right to explain freedom. So, they don't allow other countries to have the freedom to pick their priorities and preferences. Other countries only have the rights to accept American form of freedom or they would be targeted by America. Nice job country of 'Freedom'.

  34. Dambisa Moyo, Very smart woman, she argues the same way as RAY DALIO. Collect facts sort out reality, then you can have some emotion and argument and then you can have a SYSTEM PREFERENCE, that you might can maintain for some time, but not forever.
    Jaron Lanier constantly remind us that people living in complex society need DECISION REDUCTION SERVICES. Democracy failed to develop such system to assist the not so smart… Thus complex political economic life KILLED the local not too smart population, and population is declining in Eastern-Europe as well, as in the western part…
    Now we re-watch Dambisa Moyo's presentation and the protest in HK, and the fact that Dictator TRUMP and CHINA /USA are having hard time to maintain normalcy, and CHINA's popularity is decreasing. We might have to find a new alternative approach to govern society not from the democracy (buttom-up) way, and not the illiberal dictatorial stile of China (Top-Down), but from the middle pushing regulations (UP-and DOWN)… Self governed cities… See Paul ROMER …
    New ways of regulation / governance/ and decision reduction must be developed….

  35. Government owned corporations benefit the public in China. Public corporations only benefit a handful of the people in the US!
    Don't believe me? Look the amount of homeless people live on the street in the US and 45 million people live under the food stamps! Private Corporations prime interest are: Making money for themselves and give as little as possible to the employees.

  36. I still don't get the idea of dying from hunger while being free. And this is from 6 years ago!!! Imagine what she will say today.

  37. https://www.translatemedia.com/translation-blog/china-india-disrupting-healthcare-sector/ China has terrible health care in rural sector this seems ted is allowing chinese propaganda to be sold without basis.

  38. Oh. Okay. So let me see if I understand this correctly.
    The end of colonialism brought on the rise of dictatorships and corrupt politicians throughout the developing world – thus allowing these despots to steal the wealth of their respective nations at the expense of their citizens – resulting in widespread hunger and poverty.
    And so, to correct this imbalance, these developing nations should adapt the Chinese model where the CCP – the Chinese Communist Party – holds absolute control over every aspect of business, commerce, industry, and daily life. So now, censorship, widespread surveillance, party indoctrination, organ harvesting, ethnic cleansing, few private property rights, the law is whatever the Party says it is at any given moment, and so on, will be just fine as long as there will be food on the table.
    Sounds good to me…

  39. China and USA have both Capitalism. China only got out of poverty by removing the idiotic planned Economy and switched to Capitalism. There is no difference in the economic system now

  40. The fact is China already have democracy , west just refuse to accept , and also China is low-level socialism ,not state capitalism . Which U.S people fear to know . In U.S , most of people do not know what socialism really is .

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