Published: 09:53, February 22, 2024 | Updated: 12:49, February 22, 2024
China's growing influence seen in global appointment
By Liu Zhihua, Mo Jingxi and Liu Zizheng

A stage director looks on at the IMF/World Bank Annual Fall Meetings Plenary Session in Washington, DC, on Oct 18, 2019. (PHOTO / AFP)

The appointment of Zhang Wencai, a Chinese national with rich experience in development, by the World Bank Group as managing director and chief administrative officer, reflects China's growing presence in global governance, experts said on Wednesday.

They also said Chinese talent working for international trade and financial institutions are expected to contribute Chinese wisdom to help them improve global economic and financial governance.

Their comments came after the World Bank Group's announcement on Tuesday of Zhang's appointment. He is expected to officially take up the post next month.

Zhang Wencai currently works for the Export-Import Bank of China, serving as its vice-president. He is also a trustee of the International Financial Reporting Standards Foundation, a nonprofit organization that promotes international accounting and sustainability standards globally

Zhang will oversee the transformation of the World Bank Group's budget, planning and strategy and information and technology services. He will manage several corporate units including corporate procurement, general services, security, health and safety, and the sanctions system.

He currently works for the Export-Import Bank of China, serving as its vice-president. He is also a trustee of the International Financial Reporting Standards Foundation, a nonprofit organization that promotes international accounting and sustainability standards globally.

In an online statement, the Ministry of Finance said that China actively supports the World Bank Group in its reform efforts to strengthen its development objectives and institutional capacity, help developing countries address global challenges and achieve the United Nations' 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda.

Speaking at a regular news briefing in Beijing, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning said that China welcomes the appointment of Zhang.

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"China is the world's largest developing country and the World Bank Group is the largest global development institution. Over the past four decades and more, the two sides have established a close development partnership and conducted productive cooperation," Mao said.

"We look forward to deepening cooperation with the World Bank Group to make a positive contribution to global poverty reduction and development efforts," she said.

Dong Ximiao, chief researcher at Merchants Union Consumer Finance Company Limited, said that with his rich experience, Zhang is a good representative of the Chinese talent selected by the international institutions as employees.

"They are expected to make great contributions to the institutions with Chinese wisdom, through their diligent work and the upholding of rules and principles at the international institutions," Dong said.

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Zhou Mi, a senior researcher at the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation, said that multilateral trade and financial institutions are obliged to help find more reasonable solutions to global development issues, especially as developing countries are under greater financial pressure and the effective use of financial resources for development has become increasingly important.

"The global financial system should focus not only on self-development and the profits of market players, but also on serving the real economy, helping reduce global inequalities and providing financial resources to support further economic recovery," he said.

Lin Shen, an associate research fellow with the Institute of World Economics and Politics of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, also called for the reform of international financial institutions. With improved transparency and efficiency, the institutions will be able to further boost the global economy and support developing countries, he said.

Over the years, a number of Chinese people have served as top executives of international institutions.

For instance, Zhu Ming and Zhang Tao took office as the International Monetary Fund's deputy managing director in 2011 and 2016 respectively, and Li Bo, deputy managing director of IMF, started his term in 2021.

Yang Shaolin were appointed as the World Bank Group's managing director and chief administrative officer in 2016.