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Wolfowitz: China No Threat to the World

It seems to be a very popular, convenient approach these days to compare China's rise to the emergence of Germany and Japan after the 1860s.


Those who like to make analogy between now and the dark days leading up to two world wars say that powers rarely emerge without sparking war and reshaping the international system.


The conclusion: there is a big chance that China's rise will lead to, at best, troubles, or, at worst, bloodshed.


However, Paul Wolfowitz, the World Bank's new president, would not subscribe to this argument.


Paul Wolfowitz, 61, was known as a key neo-conservative hawk in the US Government and a key architect of the controversial war in Iraq.


US decision to nominate him as candidate for the World Bank's presidency led to opposition from some parts of the world. The nomination was approved by the bank's board after diplomatic efforts by the US and Wolfowitz himself.


Since taking office, however, Wolfowitz has worked to establish his image as a strong advocate of the World Bank's anti-poverty mission, rather than a tool for US values.


He lobbied hard for increased aid and debt relief for poor countries and reduction of trade barriers. He defied proposals by some to slash the bank's support to what they called "middle-income countries" such as China. He traveled extensively to donor nations, to secure smooth co-operation, and to developing countries, to know local people's needs at first hand.


In Gansu, the soft-spoken man spent substantial time talking with farmers about their lives and expectations for their children. He also visited a village Mosque and recited by memory Arabic prayers from the Koran.


Responding to the question whether he would reorient the bank and turn it into an instrument to promote US-style democracy, he said there are issues such as the accountability of government which support economic development that some people might say are political. Development should be given a meaning in a broader context, he said.


"The mission of the World Bank is to reduce poverty and to promote economic development and that's really what I want to stress," Wolfowitz said.


"When it comes back to the test of whether we (the World Bank) are doing our job or not, it's whether we're promoting development, not whether we're promoting democracy."


(China Daily October 17, 2005)

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