World Bank, China plan cooperation on African aid

Updated: 2006-12-07 19:33

BEIJING - The World Bank and China plan to work together in African aid projects as Beijing expands ties with the continent, a World Bank vice president said Thursday.

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The partnership is aimed at applying lessons that China has learned during two decades of economic reforms that have helped lift millions out of poverty, said James Adams, the bank's vice president for East Asia and the Pacific region.

"We're pretty confident that we'll be able to find a broad range of activities where we can work together," Adams said at a news conference after meeting with Chinese officials.

Adams said the two sides want to start discussing specific areas for possible cooperation.

China announced a multibillion-dollar package of grants and loans for Africa last month during a Beijing conference meant to expand political and commercial ties. The meeting was attended by 35 African heads of state and top officials from 13 other countries.

Adams said Beijing wants to see Chinese companies considered for contracts under World Bank projects in Africa, where the Washington-based bank lends US$4-5 billion (euro3-3.5 billion) a year.

He said joint projects would meet World Bank standards. China has expressed reluctance to impose aid conditions that would violate its public stance against interfering in other countries' affairs. But Adams expressed confidence they can work out any conflicts.

Adams said China also is interested in playing a bigger role in the bank's staff, possibly sending experienced officials who have worked on Chinese poverty-alleviation projects.

China has been one of the bank's biggest borrowers to finance rural development and other projects.

Adams said that despite its rapid economic growth, the World Bank plans to keep financing development projects in China. He noted that China's annual income per person is still below US$2,000 (euro1,500), with many people living on far less.

"We feel there is a very strong poverty case to be made for continued involvement in China," he said.

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