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Zhu Min bears weight of a nation in new IMF role
Global Times | July 17, 2011 22:47
By Xu Ming
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New IMF director Christine Lagarde's campaign pledge to allow emerging markets more power at the IMF has now taken definite shape with the nomination of Zhu Min, the special advisor to her predecessor Dominique Strauss-Kahn, as a deputy managing director of the IMF. It is the first time a Chinese citizen has held so high a position within the IMF.

Lagarde's decision shows recognition of a fast-growing and increasingly influential China on the world stage. And as a representative of emerging nations, China, which has been trying to have a louder voice in global issues, naturally sees the nomination of Zhu as a good opportunity to take a bigger part in IMF decision making.

The public are expecting highly from Zhu, as they did when Zhang Shengman and Lin Yifu were appointed to high posts of the World Bank.

The global economy faces unprecedented difficulties and as an institution the IMF urgently needs to change the present system, unfairly weighted toward the US and Europe.

Against this background, Zhu's nomination certainly sends a positive signal, particularly to emerging nations. Many experts expect that Zhu will make the voices of emerging markets, China included, louder.

But others are more cautious. They believe that in an international organization like IMF, it is impossible for one person to use his limited power to protect China's interests.

Sure, we should be sensible. It is not possible to change the decades-old culture within the IMF overnight. It is a long-term job. But Zhu's appointment will further add to China's influence on world stage. Every Chinese citizen who takes an international position acts as a calling card for the country.

Years ago, when Zhu was appointed as a special advisor to Strauss-Kahn, many began to expect a bigger role for him at the IMF. And days before the official statement from Lagarde, global media tipped him as the most likely candidate for the position.

Certainly Zhu's excellent career record and his experience in financial institutions were indispensable to the nomination. But his nationality also played a pivotal role.

Behind Zhu is the fastest-growing power in the world. Even Largarde herself would not deny she kept China in mind in choosing Zhu. China's voice will be important at tomorrow's IMF.

The economic pattern has already changed, compared to when the IMF was first founded. We should look at the situation dynamically.

Ten years back, no one could imagine that China could develop so fast. Yet in today's ever-changing economic pattern, we cannot predict what role China will play at the IMF in the future.

The regulations at the IMF is certainly rigid, but can still be changed to meet reality. The nomination of Zhu as the fourth deputy director is an example. Zhu's new role will break the original "one director and three deputies" leadership pattern at the IMF for the first time since its foundation in 1944, which shows international financial institutions are gradually changing. This is a good start.

But the chance is also a challenge for China. With Zhu's appointment, the country will inevitably bear more international responsibilities for global financial problems. And the worry is, whether Zhu will represent China, or, as his position requires, act as an impartial global citizen.

As a global citizen, it is his duty to stay objective and impartial in international affairs. But as a representative of China and the other emerging markets, he cannot ignore the hopes pinned on him.

If he cannot be partial to China, we can at least expect him to stay away from harming the country's interests. We can at least hope for him to push for reform and improvement at the IMF, so as to more accurately represent the makeup of tomorrow's global economy.

The author is a reporter with the Global Times.

One man not enough to push fundamental change at IMF

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