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World Bank's newly-elected president says looks forward to constructive relationship with China

Xinhua | Updated: 2019-04-12 13:43
World Bank President David Malpass responds to a question from the news media during his opening news conference at IMF headquarters in Washington, DC, on April 11, 2019. [Photo/IC]

WASHINGTON - David Malpass, who was elected president of the World Bank last week, said Thursday that he looks forward to a constructive relationship between the international lender and China.

Malpass made the remarks at the opening press conference of the Spring Meetings 2019, which the World Bank hosts together with the International Monetary Fund.

Noting that the relationship between China and the World Bank dates back many decades ago, Malpass said that China "has changed greatly over the decades," and that the country is "very much stronger" in economic terms nowadays.

Over the past three decades, China's relationship with the World Bank has been evolving, in that the country has shifted from being a "major borrower" from the World Bank to "becoming more of a donor" to the institution and its shareholders, said Malpass. "We value that constructive relationship."

Malpass, who before assuming the current post served as US Under Secretary of the Treasury for International Affairs, said that during his trip to China in February, he "talked in very constructive terms about the relationship" between the World Bank and China with Chinese officials.

"One of the things that I want to emphasize is that we share a common view that poverty alleviation, shared prosperity are (not only) key goals of what the World Bank should be doing, but also what nations around the world should be trying to do," he said.

China, Malpass said, "has been hugely successful in reducing extreme poverty," adding that as many as 850 million people are no longer in extreme poverty as the median income in China went up over the decades.

"China has some lessons ... and insights to share with the rest of the world," he added.

The World Bank chief said one of his key goals is to achieve breakthroughs in countries that either have a high amount of extreme poverty or have too little shared prosperity, making sure that they can do much better.

In the prepared remarks he delivered at the beginning of the press conference, Malpass said the loss of growth momentum worldwide throughout 2018 "is extremely troubling, because it jeopardizes the World Bank's primary goal of ending extreme poverty by 2030."

According to Malpass, the latest statistics showed that the number of people living in extreme poverty has dropped to 700 million globally, "that's down from much higher levels in the 1990s and 2000s," he said.

Meanwhile, this number is on the rise in Sub-Saharan Africa, Malpass added.

"By 2030, nearly 9 in 10 extremely poor people will be Africans, and half of the world's poor will be living in fragile and conflict-affected settings," he said.

Malpass said one of the things the World Bank wants to do to reduce extreme poverty in Sub-Saharan Africa is "to have as effective a country program as we can."

"Part of that is coordination with other multilateral donors," he said, highlighting, in particular, his meeting Wednesday with Jin Liqun, head of the Asia Infrastructure Investment Development Bank, a multilateral development bank founded by China to fund infrastructure improvement in Asia.

"We had very good conversations about ways that there can be cooperation that achieves very high quality lending programs," Malpass said of his meeting with Jin, who is in Washington to attend the spring meetings.

Calling for "urgent action" by individual countries as well as the international community to eliminate extreme poverty, Malpass said the World Bank, for its part, "is financially strong" and is becoming "even more responsive, efficient, and effective."

Established in 1944, the World Bank has set ending extreme poverty and promoting shared prosperity as its priorities.

It endeavors to accomplish the mission by decreasing the percentage of people living on less than $1.90 a day to no more than 3 percent, and fostering the income growth of the bottom 40 percent for every country -- both to be achieved by 2030.

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