World Bank, IMF seek closer ties with China

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Leading multilateral funding organizations are looking to expand the nature and scope of their engagement with China, according to their top officials.

David Malpass, the new president of the Wold Bank Group, said his organization will strive to establish a "constructive relationship" with China, while International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde termed the nation's recent economic policies as the "right approach". The two officials made the remarks at separate news conferences on Thursday when finance ministers and central bankers worldwide gathered in Washington for the annual meetings of the IMF and the World Bank.

"I am looking forward to a constructive relationship with China. It is one that is evolving," Malpass said on Thursday, two days after he took office.

China has changed greatly to be much stronger economically over the past decade, during which the country has evolved from being a major borrower of the World Bank, to one whose borrowing has been going down, he said.

"At the same time, China is becoming more of a donor to the World Bank, and a shareholder in the World Bank, and so we value that constructive relationship," he said.

The 63-year-old former US undersecretary of the Treasury began his five-year term on Tuesday. He was chosen by US President Donald Trump in early February as the candidate for the World Bank presidency, following the abrupt resignation of Jim Yong Kim.

Malpass said that he visited China in early February and met with Chinese President Xi Jinping and other officials.

"We talked in very constructive terms about the relationship, and one of the things that I want to emphasize is that we share a common view that poverty alleviation and shared prosperity are not just key goals of what the World Bank should be doing, but also what nations around the world should be trying to do," he said.

Ending extreme poverty and promoting shared prosperity are two goals the World Bank Group has set for the world to achieve by 2030.

China has been "hugely successful" in reducing extreme poverty, Malpass said, adding that in China as many as 850 million people are no longer in extreme poverty as the median income in the nation has been going up over the decades.

"That's an achievement," he said. "China has some lessons to share and insights to share with the rest of the world."

By 2030, nearly 9 out of the 10 extremely poor people will be Africans, and half of the world's poor will be living in fragile and conflict-affected settings. This calls for urgent action-by countries themselves and by the global community, Malpass said at the news conference.

To secure more resources to support programs in the sub-Saharan Africa region, Malpass said he had met with Jin Liqun, head of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, who was attending the spring meetings in Washington.

"We had very good conversations about ways that there can be cooperation to achieve very high-quality lending programs," Malpass said.

The new World Bank chief also highlighted the importance of debt transparency, of the quality of the projects and the coordination with other donors for China's programs abroad, so that the borrowing countries will have "good outcomes".

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