The Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) is mulling over China's entry to the market economy club.
Angel Gurria, OECD secretary-general, said it has already "expressed interest" in a membership offer to China.
"We (China and the OECD) know each other well and we have already conducted closer cooperation in many fields," Gurria said yesterday at the China Development Forum in Beijing.
The OECD is a forum for governments of 30 market economies, including the US and UK, that produce almost 60 percent of the world's goods and services, to work together to address the economic, social and governance challenges of globalization as well as to exploit its opportunities.
Newly appointed director of the National Energy Bureau, Zhang Guobao, said China is keen to join the OECD.
"We hope to become a member as soon as possible," Zhang said on Sunday at the forum.
Hu Angang, an academic at Tsinghua University, said the OECD should consider membership for China and also approve the country's entry to its sub-organization the International Energy Agency, which has a powerful say in controlling the global energy market.
Gurria said the first step is to set out a timetable for discussion. "Timing is still in the hands of the Chinese government. For us, there is no deadline, no rush," Gurria said. "This (China's membership) is too important to be urgent."
The OECD General Secretariat has told its Center for Cooperation with Non-members to increase cooperation with the Chinese government.
Brazil, India, Indonesia, South Africa and Southeast Asia as a whole are also being considered for OECD membership.
The OECD began accession talks with Chile, Estonia, Israel, Russia and Slovenia last December.
"The engagement of China is a must for effectively addressing the global issues," Gurria said. "The world faces a new set of opportunities and challenges and China lies at the heart of them."
China's economy has been growing at breakneck speed for some time, bringing benefits and challenges for the country and the world.
Gurria said innovative policies are needed to curb income inequality and regional disparities, balance rural and urban development, control natural resources consumption, increase clean energy use and improve the environment.
"OECD countries are facing similar challenges, which they are all trying to tackle through sharing experiences and solutions," Gurria said.
(China Daily March 25, 2008)