Op-Ed Contributors

A constructive role with China

By Robert Zoellick (China Daily)
Updated: 2010-09-13 08:17
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This year marks the 30th anniversary of the historic China-World Bank Group partnership - a partnership that has seen one of the most successful engagements of the World Bank Group and has contributed to shaping China's modernization and development.

In April 1980, when Vice-Premier Deng Xiaoping first met the then-President of the World Bank, Robert McNamara, Deng described his vision of China at the turn of the millennium: an open and rapidly growing economy with a per capita income fourfold higher, well on its way to achieving middle-income levels by the mid-21st century. For his part, McNamara committed to providing the Bank's best talent to support China on this mission. In so doing, he hoped that the World Bank would become one of China's most important development partners. Both leaders had to overcome resistance and skeptics.

Looking at China now and the important role it plays in the global economy, I am delighted that both their visions were realized.

Like all enduring ties, the China-World Bank partnership has evolved with the changing times. In the early years, the World Bank could bring global knowledge to China - how to appraise and implement priority projects; how to encourage innovation and introduce new technologies; how to develop institutions and policy instruments needed for good economic management.

Later, the learning became more mutual as success with reform, growth and overcoming poverty gathered pace. Over the last three decades, growth in China has averaged 10 percent a year, the poverty rate has fallen from 65 percent to 10 percent, all the Millennium Development Goals have been reached or are within reach, and the economy is likely to become the second largest in the world this year.

These are achievements of enormous magnitude for any country, let alone one with the size and diversity of China. They have not only benefited China but the East Asia region more widely and indeed the world. China's efforts alone have ensured that the world's Millennium Development Goal on overcoming poverty will be met. It is now the World Bank that can draw from China's experience - whether in infrastructure, education, rural development, forestry or energy - and employ this knowledge with other countries to overcome poverty in the world.

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