02/05/2008, 00.00
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Chinese to be World Bank’s new chief economist

Justin Lin Yifu, a Taiwan native who defected to the mainland, is one of China’s leading economists and a specialist in the field of rural development. His appointment signals the institution’s intention to bring China closer into the fold to promote ‘responsible development’ on poor countries.

Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) – World Bank President Robert Zoellick on Monday said the bank had appointed leading mainland academic Justin Lin Yifu as its chief economist. His appointment recognises China’s more prominent international role and represents an attempt to further involve the mainland in the World Bank.

Mr Lin, one of China’s top economists, heads a think-tank at Peking University and is an adviser to the central government. Born in Taiwan, he defected from the island in 1979 by swimming to the mainland from the island of Kinmen, just off Fujian province. He studied economics in the mainland and later earned a doctorate in economics from the University of Chicago in the United States. Founder of the China Centre for Economic Research at Peking University, he established his career researching the fundamentals of economic development in the mainland, focusing on agricultural economics and the redistribution of wealth.

He is a strong backer of China’s development model. “Because of China’s success in transforming the economy and sustaining its growth for a long time, everybody wants to know the formula behind,” he told recently told China Business News.

“Having Justin Lin as someone who is very experienced in the field of rural development will both bring us his expertise but also it will probably strengthen our ability to work with China,” Mr Zoellick.

Since taking the helm of the institution in July last year, Mr Zoellick has gone to lengths to strengthen the bank’s ties with the mainland, trying to get it involved with the World Bank in Africa.

In his previous job as US deputy secretary of state, Zoellick introduced the concept of China as a "responsible stakeholder" of the international community, demanding that Beijing acts in line with its growing global clout.

Beijing is a great lender in Africa, one of its more important sources of oil and minerals.

Although China is the World Bank’s leading loan recipient, in December, Beijing agreed to contribute to the bank’s fund for the world’s poorest countries for the first time.

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