World Bank Group President Robert B. Zoellick has commended China for the role it is playing in global development and the effort it is making to improve its energy efficiency, and reduce pollution.
Speaking at the end of a four-day visit to China – his first as World Bank President – Mr. Zoellick said: "I hope my discussions with the leadership have helped pave the way for closer cooperation between the World Bank and Chinese authorities on issues of global concern, including development in other parts of the world, energy, and climate change."
Mr. Zoellick also welcomed the announcement by China that it would for the first time contribute to the International Development Association (IDA), the part of the World Bank Group which provides grants and no interest credits to the world's poorest countries. Talks for IDA's fifteenth replenishment concluded in Berlin on Friday raising a record US$41.6 billion.
"It is a significant breakthrough to have China become a contributor," he said. "It signals China's intention to help shape the international aid architecture through multilateral channels. With this contribution, China has moved within less than a decade from being a successful IDA recipient to a global partner".
Since 1981 China has received more than $9.9 billion in IDA credits to support priority projects and strengthen capacity and institutions. China ceased being an IDA client in 1999, when its growing prosperity qualified it for more market-based terms from the World Bank.
In his meetings with Premier Wen Jiabao, Vice Premier Wu Yi and other key leaders, Mr. Zoellick commended the Government for the ambitious targets it had set for reducing energy consumption, improving fuel efficiency standards in cars, and for the important role it is playing in global carbon markets.
"Supporting China in its effort to improve energy efficiency and reduce emissions of greenhouse gases is a top priority of the World Bank in China," Mr. Zoellick said.
Since 2005, around 75 percent of World Bank Group activities have had an environmental objective.
Launching a report entitled China and the World Bank: A Partnership for Innovation, Mr. Zoellick said China had shown the world how to use development projects to test innovative ideas and then scale them up for maximum impact. The report documents more than 35 case studies that show how China has blended international good practice in development with the Chinese context.
During his visit, Mr. Zoellick visited World Bank-financed projects that have grown from small-scale pilots into large-scale success stories. In Guangzhou he drove on an inner-city ring road partially financed by the Bank in a project that demonstrates new approaches to traffic management and noise reduction that are now in use in other cities. While in Guangzhou, Mr. Zoellick also met with small business owners who have benefited from small loans to improve their energy efficiency. This program was developed with a commercial bank and financed by the International Finance Corporation, the World Bank Group's private sector arm.
In Chongqing he saw how an urban environment project dramatically reduced the city's raw sewage discharges into the Yangtze River through infrastructure investments and water utility reforms. And in Sichuan, he visited a health project which introduced an approach to medical assistance for the poor that has been scaled up nationally.
"China has shown how to work with the Bank to introduce new ideas, test them out, and then when they work, expand them across the country," Mr. Zoellick said. "China has very valuable lessons for the world about how to adapt international good practices to its local conditions and we hope to work with China on sharing these lessons in a variety of ways."
Mr. Zoellick also met with the top leaders of Guangdong Province and Chongqing Municipality Wang Yang and Bo Xilai. He listened to their perspectives on the local development priorities and discussed what the World Bank Group could do to better support their goals.
In Beijing, Mr. Zoellick commended China's development achievements in meetings with Premier Wen Jiabao, Vice Premier Wu Yi, Minister of Finance Xie Xuren, Minister of Foreign Affairs Yang Jiechi, Governor Zhou Xiaochuan of the People's Bank of China, Executive Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Dai Bingguo, Vice Minister of Commerce Chen Deming, and Vice Chairman of National Development and Reform Commission Zhang Xiaoqiang.
Mr. Zoellick also met with President of the Export-Import Bank of China Li Ruogu to discuss ongoing cooperation and knowledge sharing between the two agencies, especially around possible collaboration on pilot development projects in Africa. Mr. Zoellick also met President of the China Development Bank Chen Yuan to discuss how to enhance the existing cooperation and explore prospects for co-financing development projects in other countries. He also attended a seminar with prominent economists and think-tanks at Tsinghua University, and met with civil society organizations to hear their views on the challenges and how the World Bank in China can support their efforts.
For the full report of China and the World Bank: A Partnership for Innovation And information on the World Bank in China, please visit: www.worldbank.org/china
(China.org.cn December 18, 2007)