Chinese economist to replace Strauss-Kahn?

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The speculation about whether a Chinese candidate could step forward as the chief of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has been picking up steam across China after Dominique Strauss-Kahn's arrest over an alleged sexual assault on a hotel maid.

The Associated Press (AP) reported on Wednesday that China's Zhu Min, a special adviser to Strauss-Kahn at the IMF, is one of the potential candidates for the position. 

Chinese economist to replace Strauss-Kahn? 

Zhu declined to comment on the issue. "I have meetings all day," he was quoted as saying by AP.

Zhu assumed his position at IMF in May 2010, after serving as deputy governor of China's central bank and after a six-year stint at the World Bank. He holds a PhD and an MA in economics from Johns Hopkins University.

According to tradition, a European chairs the IMF while the United States provides the leader at the World Bank. But voices supportive of a candidate from the emerging economies are growing louder, as the developing nations become a driving force in the world economy.

"Europe's history of chairing the IMF may be broken this time, given several strong reasons: The IMF chief is usually not promoted internally; the alleged sexual assault followed by the arrest happened suddenly; and voices from the emerging markets have become louder in recent years," said Guo Tianyong, an economist, and director of the Research Center of the Chinese Banking Industry at the Central University of Finance and Economics.

He said if China could win a nomination qualification, the other suitably qualified Chinese candidate should be Zhou Xiaochuan, the central bank governor, who possesses international perspective and has good proficiency in English.

AP reported that four Europeans stand a possibility of replacing Strauss-Kahn. They include the French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde, the former head of the German central bank Axel Weber, the head of Europe's bailout fund Klaus Regling, and Peer Steinbrueck, a former German finance minister.

From the developing regions, potential candidates include Turkey's former finance minister Kemal Dervis, Singapore's finance chief Tharman Shanmugaratnam, the Indian economist Montek Singh Ahluwalia, South Africa's former finance minister Trevor Manuel, Mexico's central bank governor Agustin Carstens, and a former Brazilian central bank president Arminio Fraga. In Europe, officials including the Austrian Finance Minister Maria Fekter have urged the 62-year-old Strauss-Kahn to resign to avoid further damage to the IMF.

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