The hypocrisy of western criticism is, she says, quite breathtaking. We accuse the Chinese government of meddling in free-market capitalism, clean forgetting that US farm subsidy programmes and Europe’s Common Agricultural Policy have condemned Africa’s farmers topoverty. The US is perfectly happy to take China’s money – more than $1tn worth of government bonds – yet expects the emerging markets to say: “No, we don’t want Chinese money because there’s an issue of human rights.” We complain that the Chinese are paying too much for commodities, instead of wondering whether China might in fact have grasped their true value. And we have the nerve, she marvels, to accuse China of neocolonialism, failing to understand that “the rest of the world actually thinks what China is doing is pretty damn clever”. It was the west which got rich by invading and plundering the rest of the world, whereas China is engaging with it on respectful, peaceful, generous terms.
“What the Chinese are trying to do – move a billion people out of poverty – is just an unheard-of thing in history. The fact that they have moved 300 million in 30 years is unheard of. It took Britain 156 years to double its per capita income. It took America 57 years, Germany 65 years. It’s taken the Chinese 12-and-a-half years.”
Moyo stresses more than once: “I’m an economist, not a political scientist,” and her writing is full of the maddeningly opaque jargon of commodity trading.