BEIJING - Agustin Carstens, governor of the Mexican central bank, said on Thursday that China promised to take his bid to be the first non-European managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) seriously and that the Chinese government is in the process of making a final decision.
After making a quick visit to China, Carstens told a press briefing in Beijing on Thursday that he has held "very fruitful" discussions on his candidacy with his Chinese counterpart Zhou Xiaochuan and with Finance Minister Xie Xuren.
He insisted that his position as a non-European will be an advantage in the race and that his experience in Latin America will be particularly useful because the IMF position should be filled by an expert in crisis management.
The IMF shortlisted two public officials, Carstens and Christine Lagarde, French Finance Minister, on Monday as candidates for taking over as the managing director of the organization, while disqualifying Stanley Fischer, the Israeli central banker and former first deputy managing director of the fund.
Widely viewed as a leading candidate for the top job, Lagarde said on June 9 that she was "very satisfied" after meeting Chinese Vice-Premier Wang Qishan and other Chinese officials. China has not publicly declared whom it will support.
"Carstens' trip to China may be of little use because the country will probably endorse Lagarde," said Guo Tianyong, economist at the Central University of Finance and Economics.
He said Lagarde's proposal is in line with China's interests, and that her gathering of wide support will influence China's decision.
To win over China to her candidacy, Lagarde said she supported the decision to increase China's voting rights at the IMF from about 4 percent to nearly 6.4 percent. She also said Zhu Min, the former deputy governor of the Chinese central bank and the current economic adviser to the IMF managing director, should play a more significant role in the fund.
Carstens said it's reasonable for emerging economies to gain a stronger voice in the IMF and that Europe has been over-represented in international economic institutions.
He added that the Chinese government didn't ask for anything in return for a grant of support.
The nomination process for candidates seeking to lead the IMF will close on June 10 and a final decision will come on or before June 30.
The IMF's top slot has been vacant since the former managing director, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, resigned after being accused of sexual assault in New York.
While the competition for the top slot is becoming fiercer, there is also a jostle among candidates wanting to occupy a deputy-managing director post. That has drawn much attention from Chinese analysts, who believe a Chinese has a better chance at obtaining that position.
"It's time for China to recommend a Chinese to be deputy managing director, or even acting managing director of the fund," Guo said. "Zhu Min's experience is well qualified for that position."
Sun Lijian, deputy dean of the School of Economics at Fudan University, said Zhu Min has a good chance at winning the position.
"It is very natural that a Chinese person should be in that post, because China has performed well in the financial downturn and contributed a lot to the world economy, which is well recognized throughout the world," Sun said.
He added that the weak recovery of the US and European economies will make the IMF prefer to raise more capital from China and other emerging economies.
"Zhu Min's position as deputy head looks logical, especially since China is already the second-largest economy in the world," Sun said. "European countries should give their full support."
(China Daily 06/17/2011 page11)