World Bank Group President Says China Offers Lessons in Helping the World Overcome Poverty

September 15, 2010

BEIJING, September 15, 2010 – In China to mark the 30th anniversary of the China-World Bank relationship, visit Bank projects in poor areas, and to meet leaders, World Bank Group President Robert B. Zoellick offered to work with China on today’s challenges, some of which are the result of the past three decades of rapid growth. These include overcoming poverty that still affects millions of people, further efforts to rebalance the economy, and addressing environmental problems.

"Looking ahead, the World Bank will continue to work with China as it faces these challenges,” said Zoellick during his visit. “China’s quest now is to join the ranks of the high income countries in the next 15 to 20 years while also protecting its environment and natural resources,  and sharing responsibilities in the international economy as an important stakeholder."

Just under a week before world leaders gather in New York to discuss progress on meeting the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), Zoellick noted the important contribution that China has made in helping the world achieve the MDG on overcoming extreme poverty.

"Between 1981 and 2004, China succeeded in lifting more than half a billion people out of extreme poverty," Zoellick told the China-World Bank Group Conference on a Partnership for Harmonious Development in Beijing.  "This is certainly the greatest leap to overcome poverty in history.  China’s efforts alone have ensured that the world’s Millennium Development Goal on poverty reduction will be met. We and the world have much to learn from this."

In his speech two days ago, Zoellick also highlighted the dramatic change in China’s role at the World Bank over three decades of partnership. Starting out in 1980 as a recipient of support from the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank’s fund for the poorest, China graduated from IDA in 1999. China was able in 2007 to become an IDA contributor because of its economic success. 

"This stunning transition from one-time IDA recipient to IDA contributor was followed by yet another important milestone in April of this year when China became the World Bank’s third biggest shareholder," Zoellick noted.  "This new role comes with many opportunities, responsibilities, and expectations." 

Zoellick said the forthcoming 12th Five Year Plan presents an opportunity to shape China’s post-crisis economy and return to its rebalancing agenda.  The World Bank-China relationship aimed to move to a higher level of strategic cooperation in addressing these challenges.

"The next five-year plan will see China focusing more on the development of its greatest asset – its people – through stronger emphasis on education, open innovation and social security and health systems," he said. "At the same time, we are likely to see more emphasis on energy efficiency and emissions reduction."

Zoellick said the World Bank would work with China in helping it to find a better balance between domestic demand and export-led growth, consumption and investment, rural and urban development, and the growth of its interior and coastal economies.

While in China, Mr. Zoellick also met with President Hu Jintao, Executive Vice Premier Li Keqiang, Vice Premier Wang Qishan, Minister of Finance Xie Xueren, Minister of Foreign Affairs Yang Jiechi, Minister of Commerce Chen Deming, Chairman Chen Yuan of the China Development Bank, Shanghai Party Secretary Yu Zhengsheng, and Guizhou Acting Governor Zhao Kezhi.

During his trip to Guizhou Province, one of China’s poorer regions, Zoellick visited the World Bank-supported Gui-Guang Railway project. He also met with project officials at the Guizhou Cultural and Natural Heritage Protection and Development Project site and the Pearl River Watershed Rehabilitation Project area that provide support for minority communities.

While in Beijing, Zoellick attended the Rural Finance Forum that aimed at finding ways to improve access to finance for low-income groups, particularly in rural areas. He also attended the China-Africa Experience Sharing Program on Special Economic Zones and Infrastructure Development that reflected the cooperation between the World Bank and china on development in poorer countries.

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