Hong Kong will become one of the world's most developed cities if it maintains its status as an international financial center while speeding up its integration with the mainland, said Justin Lin Yifu, the newly appointed senior vice president and chief economist of the World Bank.
Lin was quoted as saying in an exclusive interview with the Hong Kong-based Chinese daily Wen weipo published on Wednesday.
Lin, born in China's Taiwan but making a career as a mainland- based economist, was appointed senior vice president for development economics and chief economist of the World Bank on Monday and expected to assume office on May 31.
The 56-year-old economist, often wearing a brisk haircut and a scholarly smile, said he had always looked forward to visiting Taiwan again as he had never been able to return to the island province over the past 29 years.
Lin said he had always wished he could be of help to Taiwan no matter where he was.
"Further integration between the mainland and Taiwan is in the fundamental interests of both sides," Lin said.
But he noted it was a must for Taiwan to remove political barriers in cross-Strait economic and trade ties for the further development of Taiwan's economy.
Lin said his appointment showed the new vision of the World Bank on developing issues under the leadership of president Robert B. Zoellick.
Zoellick had said he looked forward to working together with Lin on issues such as the development of African countries, cooperation among developing countries as well as the prices of agricultural produces and energy.
"It is an honor for me to take up the position at a time when the World Bank is undergoing adjustments in its strategy. I will bring my approach to the World Bank as a researcher from the developing world," Lin was quoted as saying.
He said the many challenges facing the world economy in 2008 would be a short-term correction in the economic cycle, and not a major recession.
The world economy will set off on another stage of development after the correction while the Chinese economy would have a growth of around 10 percent in 2008 to 2009, he said.
China's economic growth will be powered by domestic demand and consumption, with challenges arising from export uncertainties offset by opportunities arising from industrial upgrading and relatively active investments, he said.
Inflation was most likely to be four to five percent in China in 2008, he said.
(Xinhua News Agency February 7, 2008)